'Beware the Slenderman' Will Make You Believe Monsters are Real

‘Beware the Slenderman’ Will Make You Believe Monsters are Real

Children believe in things like fairies who collect teeth and rabbits who hide eggs, so it makes sense that by junior high they could move on to urban legends about impossibly tall men lurking in the woods and sprouting tentacles. It’s not surprising that a child would develop an interest in the internet nightmare machine known as Slenderman; what is surprising is that such an interest would end up drawing innocent blood. This fact alone is enough to make the new HBO documentary Beware the Slenderman a chilling experience. But it doesn’t stop there. It would be easy to skim a news story about Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier—two 12-year-old girls who lured their best friend into the woods and attacked her with a knife in the spring of 2014—and dismiss their claim that their crime was committed at the behest of Slenderman as a panicked excuse. It would be very easy to blame what they did on the child-corrupting power of the internet, or unchecked mental illness, or childish…

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