The Attic: ‘Beware The Slenderman’ HBO Documentary
Welcome to The Attic, Beware the Slender Man…
Last Monday, a brand new documentary premiered on HBO called “Beware The Slenderman” and it focused on the brutal attempted murder of 12-year-old Payton Leutner by two of her friends. Making headline news across the world, this led to a more widespread knowledge of the Slender Man after the two attackers claimed they had done it to please the Creepypasta character. The girls, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, one of which had been best friends with the victim for many years, reportedly stabbed Payton 19 times, and left her to die in the woods. Thankfully she has made a miraculous recovery after such a traumatic event.
Can this fictional character created for fun really cause such delusion on its own, or were these young girls predisposed to mental illness? That’s what this documentary focuses on the most, and it does a great job of delving below the surface of this “Slender Man Stabbing” and into the minds of the attackers themselves. Interviews with both plaintiff’s parents showcase signs of mental illness from a very young age, and it quickly becomes clear that Slender Man was simply a vehicle for their already disturbed minds.
From family history of schizophrenia to early signs of a complete lack of sympathy towards others, these are explored more in depth with the ones that know the girls best. You can see the sadness and confusion in their parents’ eyes, but you have to wonder if this could have been avoided. Hindsight is 20/20, and as William Weier (Anissa’s father) claims, the girls had been largely hiding their fascination with the Slender Man on their private iPads. It is too hard to speculate whether it could have been prevented or not, but I did like how the documentary reveals such insight into their backgrounds. Whether people notice at the time or not, there is almost always warning signs, and I find those interesting to look back on.
These days, kids are exposed to everything at a much younger age. It would appear that this is completely unavoidable at this point, now that kids are almost required to own their own iPads for school. Everything the internet has to offer is at the touch of a finger, and that alarms many parents. The documentary also looks into Anissa’s YouTube playlists and comments, and the results are very disturbing. She laughs at answering yes to every question in a “Are you a psychopath?” video, and comments that she loved how a cat beat a mouse to death in another video.
Most chilling of all were the interviews that were made with the girls after they were brought into custody. One of the most disturbing quotes is when Anissa explains that they would be “like lionesses chasing down a zebra.” She details the plans they had made to commit the murder, and reveals that it was originally due to take place during a sleepover but they had decided to change it to the next day while out in the woods. Anissa cries numerous times while speaking about their premeditated plans to murder Peyton, but Morgan remains calm, cool, and collected while explaining that it was necessary to kill her friend. When asked why it had to be Peyton and not someone else, she explains that it wasn’t her choice, Slender Man told her it had to be Peyton.
Due to state laws, the girls have been tried as adults thus far, but their lawyers are looking to alter that and have them tried as juveniles. The differences between the two could mean either sentences of 60+ years, or being freed at the age of 18. Lawyers are also trying to have the video confessions (without a lawyer present) thrown out as evidence, as they are claiming the girls were both too young, and perhaps not of sound mind, to understand their miranda rights. A judge is looking into these details now, and their verdict is reported to be due in February of this year. If you’re going into this documentary hoping for a creepy look into the Creepypasta sensation, look elsewhere. However, if you love a good crime documentary and peering into the minds of those that commit awful things we could never dream of, then you will definitely enjoy this special. A while back, I wrote about Slender Man’s origins, and you can check it out here.