Last year I stumbled across what could only be termed an “internet urban legend.” Since then whenever I need to get my scared on, I look up something relating to the being known as the Slenderman.
Originally created on the Something Awful forums as part of a contest of photoshoped monsters, Slenderman has now reached some pretty epic levels of exposure. Here is the original photo and its caption:
This is one of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as "The Slender Man." Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence.
Slenderman seems to be a being that stalks people. His victims become increasingly paranoid and he seems to be able to exert some kind of control over them. Or maybe he just makes them go insane. It’s unclear what his ultimate motivations are, but you can tell when he’s around because of the distortions that appear on audiovisual equipment when he is nearby.
The best and most well-known entry into what can only be called the Slenderverse is the Marble Hornets youtube channel. To sum up, a film student named Alex Kralie began to be stalked by the Slenderman and used his video cameras to document the goings on. His friend, Jay, eventually got the tapes and began posting them to youtube. Eventually, Jay himself began to get wrapped up in the mystery, and now the game’s afoot!
You can watch the Marble Hornets videos here.
And the creepy video responses by a guy known only as totheark here.
These videos are downright creepy. Watching the entire thing unfold as it was uploaded to youtube was spine-tingling, and was so good that when they released their "first season" on DVD I bought it. And it was well worth it. The only minor complaint I have is that sometimes the distorted audio gets too loud, but other than that it’s a very very good effort on the level of the Blair Witch Project (which I have not seen) or Paranormal Activity (which I have seen) by some dudes with some spare time on their hands. Roger Ebert himself has watched it and likes it. It’s also very nice to have the videos juxtaposed with the totheark videos on the DVD so you don’t have to be checking back and forth on youtube to see which response was posted when, something that I found annoying when I was trying to watch them “live.” And yes, it ruins the mythos a little to have a DVD and to have extras, commentaries, and other things, but if you really think that ruins the experience then you need to learn how to suspend your disbelief. If you’re at all a fan of horror, I think this DVD (if it’s still available) would be well worth your $15. And even if you don’t want to buy it, you can watch all of them on youtube, it’s just not as convenient.
Marble Hornets is only one of many video series about the Slenderman and his machinations. There are many many others. TribeTwelve and Everyman Hybrid are perhaps the other well-known video channels, but apparently they take a lot of getting into to appreciate, between Twitter accounts, different youtube channels, etc. so I haven’t personally gotten into them. I have watched the Anderson Journals (psychologically compelling) and TJA Projects (a very malevolent take on Slenderman and his minions) and enjoyed them very much. There are also blogs like this one that I found extremely compelling.
My one complaint in all of this is that far too often the Slenderman ends up being a very tall faceless human, and what genuinely creeps me out about the original photo is that you can tell there’s something . . . unhuman about him. This is, of course, a natural consequence of all these video series being done by people with no budget and therefore needing an actor to portray the Slenderman, so I’m not blaming them, really. Still, in all the Slenderman things I’ve seen, the one that creeped me out the most and made my skin crawl was from this “documentary,” specifically an interview between the father of one of the Slenderman’s victims and a policeman. That part starts at 3:05 and does contain swearing, but is very creepy because of the voice acting. Clearly you don't need to see Slenderman to get creeped out.
In short, I wish more of the Slendermen versions out there were like this, with the extra arms:
This mythos has even spawned costumes. Here you will find Masky (a servant? of the Slenderman from the Marble Hornets series) and Slendy himself DDRing.
Oh that I could get my friend Russ to be Slenderman for Halloween. He’s tall enough that it would totally work.
Or this one from deviantart, entitled “Bring Your Daughter To Work Day.” (It’s Samara, from “The Ring.”)
There are also parodies, like Splendorman.
So, in short, we have one guy who creates a very good very creepy photoshop of some dude with tentacle arms watching kids at a playground, and it spawns literally dozens of spinoffs that has even caught the attention of some of the mainstream media. You can even watch a cute girl watch Marble Hornets. This is totally an internet-only urban legend. And Marble Hornets is definitely worth your time, specifically. I’ve tried to point out a few others here, but they are the original. Well worth looking at if you like horror or film in general and have some time to kill. At night. So you can get the full experience.
And you know what the best part of this is? Once you find out about Slenderman, you can't get him out of your mind.
And now you know about him to.
And he knows that you know.
Be careful out there.