Hot Docs 2016: Beware the Slenderman – Irene Taylor Brodsky


Having its international premiere last night at the Lightbox,  Irene Taylor Brodsky’s film is a slick looking, unnerving and surprisingly emotional look at the blurring of fiction and reality in the modern age, as two young girls, Anissa and Morgan succumb to the terrors and stories of the internet created character of the Slenderman, and attempted to kill their friend and classmate, Payton.

Delving into the creation of the character in 2008, and the way the internet has embraced, fostered, and added to the canon of the character, it also closely follows the court case as the two women, separated from one another and their families face a judge who will decide whether they will be tried as adults or not.

With candid interviews with the family, we get a look at the names behind the headlines, and learn that Anissa and Morgan were normal in every way, until their shared belief in the reality of the character, pushed them to attempt to take a life.

As their lives are revealed, and we learn more, we discover mental illness, and chilling answers given during a police investigation within hours of the stabbing.

As a documentary, the film looks amazing, with fantastic camera work, and a perfectly paced telling of the story, If you’re going in looking for a film centering on the internet famous character of Slenderman, you may be disappointed, though a fairly complete history of the character’s creation is given, and examined. The film, quite rightly, sticks to reality, and follows the women as they ruminate on what they have done, and what the internet and it’s affect may have as more and more of us fall prey to the illusory worlds created by the internet.

Creepy, unnerving, and in the end, emotional as it looks at the modern age, mental illness, the justice system, and the lives of those caught up in it Beware the Slenderman serves as a warning of innocence lost.

The film screens twice more, Thursday at 9:15pm and Saturday at 12:45pm, both at the Lightbox.



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