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:
Morgan Geyser
Anissa Weier
Payton Leutner
Angie Geyser
Bill Weier
Richard Dawkins
Judge Michael O. Bohren
Michelle Trussoni (City of Waukesha Police Department)
Kristi Weier
Trevor J. Blank
Brad Kim (KnowYourMeme.com)
Jack Zipes
Abigail Baird
“Tyler”
“Maggie”
Shelly Fisher (City of Waukesha Police Department)
Jacqueline Woolley
“Hope” (Support Morgan Geyser Facebook Page)
Michael Caldwell
Matt Geyser
David Janisch, PI
Shelley Grunke (Washington County Jail)
Thomas Casey (City of Waukesha Police Department)
Thom Moerman (Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department)

Available at HBO and HBO Canada

Premise

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.

High Point

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.

Low Point

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.

The Scores

Originality: 3/6 Viewers of true crime stories will recognize the approaches taken by Brodsky.

Editing 5/6

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.

Overall 5/6

In total, Beware the Slenderman receives 33/42