Beware the Slenderman

HBO Films

“We never thought for a moment she’d believe it was real,” said Angie Geyser, mother of one of two teen girls currently in prison in rural Wisconsin awaiting trial for the attempted murder of a friend to appease a modern-day boogeyman. The “Slender Man”—described in Irene Taylor Brodsky’s excellent true-crime documentary, Beware the Slenderman, as “the Grim Reaper, but with a heart”—was cultivated by the online “creepypasta” community (which specializes in horror fan-fiction and memes) and appears as an abnormally tall man with long outstretched arms, clad in a black suit and a white face devoid of features. The documentary, available on HBO, is a disturbing look at young malleable minds warped by popular Internet myth-making. The story is told from the perspectives of the girls’ parents, detectives, psychiatrists and evolutionary and cultural theorists, and makes a solid case that the real nightmares aren’t monsters lurking in the shadows, but the unpredictable tragedies that might be born in the light of day in the homes of otherwise normal families.