One of the year's most controversial films is due to arrive this summer, when Slender Man (co-producer Andrea Ajemian) hits theaters. The movie is based on tales of the Slenderman, a fictional evil entity created in an online forum less than a decade ago that has gone on to become an urban legend — even allegedly inspiring some children to commit real life horrific acts. So with Slenderman currently being a lightning rod for controversy in the news, here's everything we know about the Slender Man movie so far.
First off, the film is a brand new fictional tale, and is not actually based on the "Slenderman stabbing" that took place in 2014. That incident occurred in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 2014, when 12-year-old girls Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser allegedly lured their classmate Payton Leutner into the woods and stabbed her 19 times. The girls subsequently claimed that they were inspired to try and kill Leutner by Slenderman, whom they believed to be real. They thought that by becoming proxies of the entity, their families would be protected from him. After using this as their defense in court, both girls wound up being sentenced to lengthy stints in mental hospitals. In Dec. 2017, Weier was sentenced to up to 25 years in an institution, while Geyser was sentenced to the maximum of 40 years on Feb. 1, 2018, according to ABC News.
Because the fallout of the infamous attack is still being dealt with, the Slender Man movie is receiving some criticism. The film's plot revolves around teenagers performing a ritual involving the Slenderman, with Rotten Tomatoes giving the following synopsis:
In a small town in Massachusetts, four high school girls perform a ritual in an attempt to debunk the lore of Slender Man. When one of the girls goes mysteriously missing, they begin to suspect that she is, in fact, HIS latest victim.
Given that the plot deals with young girls performing rituals related to Slenderman, some believe that the movie too closely mirrors the real life tragedy, even though it's not actually based on it. One of the most prominent people to voice this opinion is Bill Weier, the father of Anissa Weier, who told the Associated Press in January that the film is insensitive and he's hoping theaters boycott it. "It’s absurd they want to make a movie like this," Weier said at the time, according to USA Today. "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."
But there's more to the film than the controversy surrounding it. For instance, the movie stars up-and-coming actors Joey King and Jaz Sinclair as two of the teen girls, with Annalise Basso and Julia Goldani Telles rounding out the quartet. Kevin Chapman portrays "an emotionally defeated, alcoholic father," according to Deadline, and Javier Botet — who played the terrifying Crooked Man in The Conjuring 2 (production designer Julie Berghoff) — is portraying the Slender Man. The film is directed by French director Sylvain White, who is mostly known for his TV work here in the United States. IMDb credits David Birke with writing the film's screenplay, yet the movie's official website gives sole writing credit to Victor Surge — the alias used by Slenderman creator Eric Knudsen. Finally, the film's first trailer was released on Jan. 3, 2018, and the movie is due in theaters on Aug. 24.
The main thing to know about the Slender Man movie is that it's not based on the Slenderman stabbing. Instead, it's an original tale centered on the lore of the Slenderman, which is perhaps the most significant urban legend to ever be born on the internet. But that distinction probably isn't going to make the upcoming horror film any less controversial.