'Slender Man': New Trailer References the Meme's Dark History

Art imitating life comes full circle.

The second official trailer for Slender Man landed on July 26, revealing what might seem like a pretty standard horror plot involving teenagers and terrible decisions. But some cryptic moments and a quick dive into Slender Man’s history suggest an unexpected twist that could be art imitating life.

The upcoming movie follows a group of four friends in a small town in Massachusetts. They hear a creepy legend about something called Slender Man and commit the classic horror mistake of performing a ritual to prove it’s bogus. Of course, they pay for it the hard way when one of the friends goes missing and they start to see all manner of terrifying things.

You probably know this movie is based off the game Slender: The Eight Pages by indie studio Parsec Productions. The survival horror title made a splash when it came out in 2012 and was a big hit among game YouTube commentators like Day9 and POiiSED.

But what you may not know is that Slender Man holds a prestigious position in internet history as one of the most viral examples of early creepypasta. Slender Man was created by Eric Knudsen, who submitted the first image of the character for a Photoshop contest on the Something Awful forum in 2009. The image featured a bunch of kids in a black and white photo with the very tall, very thin man with no face and a suit.

This shot from the upcoming film is a reference to the creepy photo that started it all.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

Knudsen’s creation led to some pretty good video games, but unfortunately, it was also cited as an inspiration for some violent incidents. In May 2014, a pair of 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin lured another friend into some woods and stabbed her 19 times. Both attackers said the stabbing was to impress Slender Man.

Several other attempted murderers also invoked the creepypasta legend. In September, a mother in Ohio said her 13-year-old daughter assaulted her with a knife after steeping herself in Slender Man lore. In Florida, police said a 14-year-old arsonist who lit her house on fire with her family still inside was possibly influenced by Slender Man.


Sony Pictures Entertainment

All these perpetrators were tween and teenage girls. While the Slender Man trailer doesn’t explicitly reference any of these events, the fact that all the principal characters are also teenage girls seems to be a nod toward reality.

Declared missing... Or is she?

Sony Pictures Entertainment

So in light of all that, here’s something to consider: Maybe Slender Man won’t be the real villain in the film. Perhaps it will actually be one of the girls. In fact, what if Katie is actually staging her own disappearance to lure her friends into a macabre murder ritual?

How’s that for a creepypasta?

Slender Man creeps into theaters on August 10.

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