REVIEW: Beware the Slenderman (2017)

Release Poster - HBO
Release Poster – HBO

The following is a quick review of the HBO Documentary – Beware the Slenderman

In Wisconsin in 2014, two young girls lured one of their friends into the woods before stabbing her and almost killing her. They did this to impress the infamous Slenderman, a fictional online boogeyman. Beware the Slenderman tells the story of the attempted murder and how the two girls were influenced by the online urban legend. 

One of the great things about Beware the Slenderman is the access that the filmmakers had. It is haunting to see the family members of the two girls open up about how they grew up and changed. The parents really open up, and we get to see video of the girls from when they were only interested in getting Santa Claus’ attention. Some of this is really heartbreaking.

But the documentary also gives you a glimpse into what people think of them. The father of one of the girls reveals how frustrating it is to hear people talk about how he maybe didn’t do enough to prevent his daughter from doing what she did.

It’s also a bit of a shame that we didn’t get to hear from the victim or her parents. It’s not a problem as much as it is a disappointment. Beware the Slenderman, however, does a fantastic job of connecting the infamous Slenderman to The Pied Piper of Hamelin in one of the more fascinating sections of the documentary.

Beware the Slenderman is absolutely riveting at times, but it’s also somewhat unfocused and definitely unfinished. By the time the documentary is over, you’re left thinking that the decision it leads up to wasn’t as final as you wanted it to be. However, you never lose interest in learning more about the incident or the kids that were involved in it.

I also didn’t appreciate how much the documentary chose to play creepy online clips of Slenderman. I get that the documentarians were trying to show what kinds of stories and clips influenced the girls, but I think they went too far by going back to those types of clips over and over again. It’s a documentary not a horror movie, and with a lesser director this could’ve felt distasteful.

I had been very interested in watching this documentary for quite a while, but while I did find Beware the Slenderman interesting, I had a lot of problems with it. If you’re at all intrigued by cases like this one, then you should check it out.

7 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex

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