Urban legends can be quite scary, especially as these stories are passed through people and become to be quite legendary. The legend of Slender Man is one of these things — a character whose shape and backstory changes depending on who retells the story. But the movie, Slender Man, currently out in theaters, aims to bring this urban legend into a bigger light. And because the movie is a horror film, of course people are wondering if Slender Man is based on a true story.
The movie, Slender Man, which debuted in theaters on Aug. 10, tells the story of a group of high school classmates who search for a friend who has gone missing. Their search leads them to the woods, surrounding their small town — which is a "very bad idea," according to Entertainment Weekly, because this leads them to encounter Slender Man. Once Slender Man is in their lives, he doesn't leave. The trailer for the movie makes this very clear.
This is understandably terrifying, especially since Slender Man, with his long limbs and black suit, is not the kindest looking character. But people shouldn't be worried about Slender Man infiltrating their lives any time soon. This is because Slender Man is only based on the meme-turned-urban-legend which originated on the website, Something Awful, in 2009, according to the New York Times. And although the film does tell a new tale involving the urban legend involving a group of friends, it doesn't necessarily succeed, according to the New York Times.
This means that people can go into the movie confident that they're not watching someone's story be retold on camera but played out by actors and actresses. And, although some people might want to believe it, Slender Man himself isn't real, according to the New York Times — he's a fictional legend made up by a man named Eric Knudsen. So, this specific film about Slender Man isn't based on a true story.
Although some people might assume this, Slender Man isn't based on the 2014 Wisconsin stabbing which brought the Internet legend to the forefront, according to Vulture. In 2014, 12-year-old Anissa Weier and her friend, Morgan Geyser, led their classmate, Payton Leutener into the woods in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and stabbed her, according to NPR. The girls "said they planned the stabbing in order to please" Slender Man. Weier was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years in a mental hospital, according to NPR while Geyser was sentenced to 40 years in a mental institution after pleading guilty, according to CNN, and Leutener survived the stabbings. The documentary, Beware The Slenderman, which debuted on HBO in 2017, interviews the girls, their parents, and explores how Slender Man made his way into their lives, according to Entertainment Weekly.
But the movie, Slender Man, doesn't do that, according to Oxygen's Martinis & Murder, and tries to veer away from the 2014 stabbings (it was reportedly edited to do so, according to Movie Web). But there are some similarities in the film (like the woods setting and classmates) that might remind some of the movie's viewers of the real life news story, according to Martinis & Murder.
The important thing to remember when watching Slender Man is that horror films like these are meant to be scary, not believable. They're filled with the kind of details to make viewers jump — not necessarily convince them to believing the story. Especially since the film is filled with "unsettling, nightmare-like imagery," according to Common Sense Media.
Although the story of Slender Man might seem familiar with those who have read about him on the internet, rest assured that Slender Man paints a new picture about the faceless legend.