As someone who’s watched horror films for most of his life, I’m not really all that easily scared. I was scared out of my wits by The Exorcist (the edited-for-television version, no less) as a kid, and more recently, both The Conjuring and Insidious left me quite unnerved. The Grudge has the honor of being a movie that required me to turn on the lights in the house since I watched it after dark. Other than that, I am not really all that moved by most horror films – especially slasher films. Please – gore does not equal scares. It never has for me and it never will.
That said, I have to say that Slender Man really creeps me the fuck out.
I don’t even really know how my interest in Slender Man was piqued the other night – probably the Twitter account TerrifyingPics which I have totally gotten into recently (Photoshopped photos or not) – but it sure was. I ended up watching a whole slew of faux documentaries about Slender Man on YouTube in bed and all I ended up doing was scaring myself. I had to go back downstairs to get something and I didn’t dare look out the windows for fear of seeing the Slender Man standing there, just looking in at me.
For those of you not familiar with Slender Man lore, it all started back in 2009 in the Something Awful forums. The goal was to Photoshop supernatural creatures into normal photos. The Slender Man went viral not long after that, spawning a whole boatload of fan fiction, altered photos, fake documentaries and video games. The history of the Slender Man is that he is an entity that has been around for an undetermined period of time – evidence exists of his presence in Ancient Egypt – that patiently stalks his prey before abducting them and either killing them or taking them to an alternate dimension. No one knows exactly what happens to Slender Man’s victims other than they are never seen again. His victims are frequently children and once he is sighted, he will not stop. He has no face, wears what appears to be a black suit and tie and, as his name implies, is unnaturally tall and slender.
While I get that Slender Man is not real, the concept is very scary to me. The idea that something could be watching you from afar, so calm, so seemingly without interest, yet also very malevolently freaks me out more than just a little bit. Also, anything that preys on kids I think is scary to something very base in everyone, but especially parents. There’s also something about the juxtaposition of something supernatural over the top of kids playing or people just minding their own business. Because really, isn’t that what makes the supernatural scary – when it somehow rubs up against our consciousness and we’re suddenly made aware of it?
I walked home from work at 10:30 tonight and thank God I didn’t think about Slender Man until I was unlocking the door to the house. Otherwise, I might have thought that I saw him around every corner. Of course, now that I know I’ll be walking home tomorrow and Sunday night, I know that I won’t be so fortunate those evenings.
I’m not saying that I necessarily believe in the supernatural – I certainly don’t believe in Slender Man since I know that he was, as the BBC put it, “the first great myth of the web.” But I’m forever Fox Mulder – I want to believe. I started reading a sample of The Demonologist at supper tonight. The Demonologist is a book about Ed & Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators that famously investigated the house in The Amityville Horror as well as being featured in this summer’s The Conjuring. I really do want to believe. And maybe that’s why things like Slender Man scare me on a very basic level.
However, to counterbalance the anxiety that the concept of Slender Man evokes in me, I will just think of his cousin, Trender Man.
That oughta do it. Or at least I hope so.