Controversy Haunts ‘Slender Man’ During Trailer Debut

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The tall, faceless man wearing a black suit continues to haunt parents and their children to this day. Except this time, he won’t be inside a small computer screen. Instead, he’ll be in the movie theater.

A modern-day horror icon that was created in 2009 under a Something Awful internet forum, Slender Man is the supernatural antagonist behind the Slender series, appearing in miscellaneous media from the web series “Marble Hornets” to the video game The Eight Pages. Now, the character is prominently featured in the film adaptation of the same name, which released its first trailer earlier today.

While many video game and horror fans are no doubt excited at seeing a live-action Slender Man, many parents are considerably less happy about the character’s film adaptation. Bill Weier, the father of Anissa Weier, who was charged with attempted first degree murder with Morgan Geyser for luring classmate Payton Leutner into the woods before stabbing her 19 times in 2014, is one of those parents. Mentioning the girl’s inspiration for the attack behind their fascination with Slender Man, Bill told the Associated Press that Sony Pictures is trying to capitalize on the real-life tragedy.

“It’s absurd they want to make a movie like this. It’s popularizing a tragedy is what it’s doing. I’m not surprised, but in my opinion it’s extremely distasteful. All we’re doing is extending the pain all three of these families have gone through.”

The 2014 stabbing was not the only violent incident that was related to Slender Man. In that same year, an Ohio woman told her local news station that her 13-year-old daughter attacked her with a knife after writing short fiction involving the character. Later that year, a 14-year-old girl set her house on fire while her mother and younger brother were still inside. Investigators claim that the girl was inspired after reading online stories featuring Slender Man. In 2015, the New York Times reported on a string of mostly teenage suicide attempts on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Slender Man was reported to be motivation behind some of the attempts, as well as a suicide spirit that the Oglala Sioux tribe believe in.

Judge Michael Bohren speaking in court Feb. 20, 2017, in Waukesha, Wis. Bohren presided over the Weier case where two girls inspired by Slender Man stabbed one of their classmates 19 times. Featured image credit: Michael SearsAP Images

It’s unclear how much of the film will mirror these real-life horror stories, although a few snippets from the trailer eerily mimic some of these cases, such as one scene where a student stabs herself in front of another classmate, or another when a young girl emerges from the woods covered in blood.

The film is directed by Sylvain White (Stomp The Yard, The Losers) and written by David Birke (Elle, 13 Sins). It is scheduled to be released on May 18.