Who is, Slenderman?

Imprinted on the popular consciousness after years of online obscurity, the highly-publicized stabbing of a 12-year-old in Waukesha, Wisconsin, reportedly to appease the Slenderman, brought the little known pocket of digital folklore harshly into the light.

Chronicling the events leading up to the attack, the immediate aftermath and court appearances of the accused, filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsky inter-splices police footage of the interviews and crime scene, home movies and her ventures into the alcoves of online subcultures, painting a vivid picture of what is still viewed as one of the most bizarre, shocking crimes in recent memory.

Created in a corner of the internet and a stalwart of the Creepypasta horror site, Taylor Brodsky traces Slenderman back to his roots, expanding on the online folk-figure that found his way into numerous fan-fictions, forums and any number of crudely to well photo-shopped memes. An interview with a digital folklorist, analogising the development of the mysterious and not altogether frightening figure with the classic Pied Piper tale, proves a highlight of the feature, as does various insights from the well-read in online culture and those up with the latest in all things Slenderman.

Elaborating on aspects of modern culture often dismissed, Taylor Brodsky’s unpacking of the mythology and corresponding weight of communal contribution to the still-evolving content is fascinating, containing enough strands to sustain its own documentary but dealt with here all too briefly.

The hook and wider public interest in the documentary inevitably harking back to the astonishing crime, the filmmakers spend the bulk of the picture speaking with the accused’s parents or replaying recorded discussions with police and the (limited) vision of the alleged perpetrators in court. Taking up lengths of time on two separate interviews taped by Wisconsin law enforcement, as intriguing as they are so much of the documentary’s weight rests on the elucidating insight into the girls’ alleged motivation and now infamous aspect of online culture, on which the film spent comparatively limited energy.

Too boasting a strikingly tense opening horror sequence, Beware the Slenderman tries but missteps in attempting to cover so much ground, hinting at enough material that, if expanded upon, could fairly form the basis of multivarious, involving documentaries.

Beware the Slenderman is screening as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival – for tickets head to the Festival website