As the trial of Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier nears (March or April of this year), we review Irene Taylor Brodsky’s disturbing HBO documentary about the Slenderman Stabbing case—and about the history and impact of the online horror icon.
Title: Beware the Slenderman
Cast, Crew, and Other Info:
Directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky
Appearing as themselves:
Judge Michael O. Bohren
Michelle Trussoni (City of Waukesha Police Department)
Trevor J. Blank
Brad Kim (KnowYourMeme.com)
Shelly Fisher (City of Waukesha Police Department)
“Hope” (Support Morgan Geyser Facebook Page)
David Janisch, PI
Shelley Grunke (Washington County Jail)
Thomas Casey (City of Waukesha Police Department)
Thom Moerman (Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department)
In 2014, the day after a sleepover party, a pair of 12-year-old girls attempted to sacrifice a classmate to the Internet creation known as Slenderman. The documentary also examines the origins and spread of the fictional boogeyman as a cultural meme.
The documentary’s ability to get us close to the perpetrators of an unfathomable crime, and shed some light on the psychological and social factors involved, is stunning.
The story of the murder and the spread of Slenderman are related, but fundamentally different, stories. While the crime coverage goes into considerable depth, the exploration of memes, folklore, storytelling, and the internet gets shortchanged.
Originality: 3/6 Viewers of true crime stories will recognize the approaches taken by Brodsky.
Content 5/6 The documentary attempts much and, while it works for the most part, it feels disjointed and incomplete in places.
Performance and Presentation: 5/6
Production 5/6 HBO invested the time and money necessary to make a documentary that goes beyond easy sensationalism.
Emotional Response 5/6 Chilling, informative, and heart-wrenching, this documentary shows how Slenderman, like the girl from The Ring, crawled out of the screen due to a bizarre mix of social circumstances, psychological irregularities, and factors we may never really understand. Beware the Slenderman also documents the inability of the justice system to deal with child offenders, particularly those with mental illnesses.
In total, Beware the Slenderman receives 33/42