Last year, little Georgie and everyone else feared a sadistic clown named Pennywise, but in 2018, it's Slender Man who's going to haunt all of your nightmares. Need proof? Just check out the trailer for Slender Man, which is sure to give you some serious It vibes. The film — out May 18, 2018 — is based on the urban legend of Slender Man, a ubiquitous shadowy figure that shows up in photos of kids playing. No surprise, his appearance is often connected to death, namely of those kids he seems to be stalking in these innocent snapshots.
The horror stories surrounding the Slender Man — which was created by Eric Knudsen, under the username Victor Surge, in 2009 for the website Something Awful — has made him an internet sensation. Why? According to an interview with The Guardian by one person who's been following the shady figure from the very beginning, he looks "like a predator and a man, all at the same time." It's what makes him both a mythical creature — the stories about him are fake — and someone very much steeped in reality, which happens to be the perfect combination for a horror movie villain.
The movie's trailer keeps Slender Man mostly in the shadows, which also keeps viewers on their toes. He — who's played by The Conjuring 2's Javier Botet, who just so happened to appear in It — only shows up in two quick shots where you don't get enough time to get a good look at him. Though, Slender Man is usually a very tall, very skinny, very pale faceless man who dons a black suit. Think a less cartoonish Babadook. But his ominous presence is felt throughout, which means there's no doubt that this teaser is going to up your heart rate.
"He gets in your head like a virus," a scared young woman says in the trailer, which certainly plays with this idea that Slender Man infects you. While you're fixated on spotting the shadowy figure, the teaser quickly cuts from one horrifying scene to the next even more horrifying moment. There's a girl trapped in a dark forest and another trapped in a hospital where she's screaming bloody murder. One nervous girl is about to stab herself in the head with a scalpel during science class when the camera cuts away. The blood splatter on her classmates face is the final sign that she went through with it. But, it's what another young woman is holding in her hands as she creepily appears out of the forest with pale skin that is as white as her dress.
These images get stuck in your head, as do the creepy sounds of little girls screaming and then laughing. There's not much dialogue included in the trailer — "People don't just disappear," one man says — because the story isn't what will drive this movie's success. It's your fear of this bogeyman that drives this movie. After watching the trailer, you may wonder if Slender Man will actually be the scariest part of the film, or if it's the ways in which people respond to him that should really scare us.
According to Consequence of Sound, the Slender Man movie looks at four high school girls "as they perform a ritual in an attempt to debunk the myth of Slender Man," but when one of the girls goes missing, they believe she was taken by him. And while this isn't based on a true story, it's hard not to think about the very real scary story that inspired a 2016 documentary called Beware The Slenderman.
That HBO doc looks at the 2014 Slender Man stabbing case in which two teenager girls, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, allegedly lured a third girl named Payton Leutner into the Wisconsin woods during a sleepover and allegedly stabbed her 19 times on the orders of Slender Man. The two girls claimed that the shadowy character would kill their families if they didn't do his bidding for him, according to The Associated Press. Leutner survived and both Geyser and Weier were both originally charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
Last month, Weier, who allegedly encouraged Geyser to allegedly stab Leutner, was sentenced to 25 years in a psychiatric institution, which, according to the Associated Press, was the maximum sentence for the now 16-year-old. Geyser, who allegedly stabbed Leutner, will be sentenced in February with prosecutors arguing that she should spend 40 years in a mental institution.
What is clear is that the horror of Slender Man is not just in the movies. The upcoming film seems to hope your interest in the meme will get you to the theater, too.