This horrifying tale comes from humble beginnings. An online Photoshop competition in 2009 gave birth to Slenderman, a supernatural figure of abnormal height, with a black suit and a blank face. Slenderman stalks and manipulates children, convincing them to commit heinous crimes in order to appease him.
Over the years his myth grew, inspiring fan art, stories, games, and a YouTube video series. Then, in May 2014, two 12-year-old girls lured a schoolmate into the woods and stabbed her 19 times. She was rushed to a hospital, “one millimeter away from certain death,” but miraculously survived. She has since recovered and returned to school. As for her would-be murders, they say they did it all for Slenderman.
Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier plotted the crime for months. They said they wanted to prove themselves worthy of Slenderman, a character they believed was real, and prevent him from harming their families. Together they brutally attacked Payton Leutner, also 12, during a game of hide-and-seek in the local forest. Leutner narrowly escaped death. Geyser and Weier were charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide and will be tried as adults.
HBO’s documentary, Beware The Slenderman, offers an unsettling glimpse behind the scenes of the case. The film splices together CGI renderings of the faceless boogeyman with actual footage from the trial and interrogations. Together it makes for a supremely scary look at the internet’s darkest corners and the psychology of children, one that’s bound to stick with you long after you watch.
Check out the trailer above and look for Beware The Slenderman to debut on HBO in January 2017.