About The Production
In the summer of 2017, a group of filmmakers quietly scouted locations in a
flinty old towns northwest of Boston, preparing to make a film about a
mysterious being they all
thought they knew something about-yet, when pressed, would readily admit they
nothing at all. Meanwhile, they crafted a realistic little town-homes, high
cemetery and surrounding woods, found a perfect young cast and stepped into the
realm of Slender Man.
One night during production, producers, director and actors sat around a virtual
and shared their anticipations, feelings and fears about this paranormal figure
and how he's
infused his mythos into 21st century hopes and fears.
"Slender Man is an unnaturally tall, phantomlike figure associated with the
of people, often kids, in suburban or forested areas-and nobody knows what
happens to the
people who disappear," begins producer Brad Fischer. "He can sometimes be seen
photographs; you don't immediately realize that he is there until suddenly, you
recognize him in
the corner of the frame. His arrival can be categorized by 'Be careful what you
wish for,' a
warning for all, but especially for the kids growing up in a suburban malaise
who get bored and
might want to test the dark side-for suddenly they're facing something pretty
"Here is this tall man in a suit-but take the face away!" marvels producer Sarah
"It's a figure of authority that's after you, and that's something that can be
"I think that the imagery is really scary and haunting," says actor Julia
who plays sane, stable Hallie. "Because he doesn't have an expression you can
put whatever you
want on there. In the movie, all the girls have different ideas of what they get
from Slender Man.
Online there are forums about what everybody believes; it's become a community,
a way of
people working off of each others' fears. And building on them. Some people
these stories. Other people, I think, are projecting their fears. It becomes
"As a teenager who hasn't really developed her voice yet, I find it so difficult
to find the
truth because it's so easy to be confused in the world today," continues actor
who plays sad, creative Katie, "and I guess Slender Man is a metaphor for the
danger of being
consumed by doubt. Things aren't black or white, there's lots of grey-but it's
hard as a young
person who's not yet mentally developed to navigate that world of grey because
you can't see
through that fog. You have to be equipped with the tools to navigate through
that confusion and
"Slender Man, he's so many things," says Jaz Sinclair who plays sweet, sensitive
"He's a figure in the woods and he's this mystical creature that targets your
can't catch him because he's inside your head."
"I think people are curious about what they don't know," says Alex Fitzalan who
popular, likable Tom. "Slender Man is the first real horror figure born on the
Internet, which I
think is really cool. He's a completely original creation and from his inception
he's just inspired
so many stories. He's like our generation's own Freddie Krueger and his allure
is that he
belongs to this generation and not a prior generation."
Spanish actor Javier Botet who plays the title character observes how "Slender
like a blank paper. That's the power of this character because it's like
something where you can
put all your fears. When I knew I'd be playing this character, I loved it
because in all the time
I've been working these last years in horror, I enjoy very much when something
insinuated. The cinema over the last years has shown a lot of things, a lot of
the monster all the
time. I always love it when something is there, you feel it's there, but you can
see only a few
little seconds. People need the space to fill it with their own fears."
Slender Man may have these eye-of-the-beholder elements, but he "certainly
back to existing concepts of mythology," adds executive producer Louis Sallerson.
Pied Piper and other medieval and more modern ideas of something that takes your
away. In some ways I think we're most horrified by what is essentially an
society. This idea that something can take your children, make them
unrecognizable or take
them altogether off the grid in a way that you can't imagine what has happened
to them is not
just a frightening thing for you, personally, but extrapolated is just as
frightening a thing for
society at large."
The creator of Slender Man, Eric Knudsen (aka Victor Surge) joined the cast and
filmmakers and he provided his take on the character: "It's simultaneously easy
and hard to
describe him. It's easy to describe his appearance and to a lesser extent his
method, but to
describe his motives is impossible. Because that's the whole point! He's like an
creature. You can ascribe to him whatever trope or whatever you find
frightening. And that's, I
think, his appeal to a mass audience. You may think you know the rules, like who
he's going to
affect or how he's going to come after you-and then he might just flip the
script and go in a
completely different direction. And that's what makes him so frightening. It's
nature of what he wants or what it wants... and what it does.
We don't know his motives. If we see his actions as something terrifying, it is
terrifying. If someone sees it as something safe or something good, that's how
she perceives it. I
want Slender Man to almost be above those concepts, above the concepts of good
malicious or benign. It seems all terrifying, because it's so unknown to us."
"It's like a virus that affects your computer," adds Joey King who plays misfit
"but you can take your computer to the Apple Store and they'll fix it for you.
They'll get rid of
the virus and your computer will be fine. But there's no computer store to get
rid of a virus for
your brain. So if you go to the hospital and say, 'I'm seeing Slender Man,'
they're going to say
let's take you to the mental ward; they're not going to say, 'Let's figure out
what's wrong with
your brain' and no matter what you do he'll still be there. It's a virus that
you cannot get rid of."
"I like that 'viral' aspect in both 'going viral' and in virus," adds producer
"You can't get rid of a typical virus. Once you've got it, it's there forever.
There may be some
ways of controlling its effect on you. But not with Slender Man-once he's found
you he has
you. Well, think about it like this: Slender Man exists within the Internet but
until you've let
him into your life he's just on the Internet. Once you have made this connection
with him, he
becomes real. He becomes a part of the real world around you, the shape and the
fabric of your
life. And whether that's just a perception or whether it's physically
legitimate, he's standing in
the corner of your bedroom."
Executive producer Louis Sallerson describes how the Slender Man character "was
created originally as part of a contest on the Something Awful forum by Eric
online goes by the name Victor Surge). Basically, the contest was to take an
and add something paranormal to it. I don't think it required a text but Eric
added it anyway,
submitting two photos that became the original Slender Man photos, making up
about how there had been a burned-down school or library and half the bodies
discovered. Then he wrote another piece of text detailing something from the
someone who had been taken by Slender Man. I think the wording was, 'his
fascinated us or comforted us and horrified us at the same time.'"
"Back in June 2009, there was a thread on Something Awful called 'Let's Create
Paranormal Images,'" says Knudsen. "At that time the thread was pretty young,
there were only
about three or four pages of entries. And I was looking through some of the
entries, some of the
pictures, and I said, 'oh, these are really good. I really like how they look. I
think I can do some
pretty creepy pictures myself.' As he prepared to create the character, Knudsen
was thinking 'What would I personally find creepy?' There's the Mad Gasser of
was a strange event of mass hysteria that happened in Illinois in the
mid-Forties. And I was
thinking about video game series like Silent Hill. I was envisioning something
background that was very tall, very unknown, very menacing. And I was thinking
about H. P.
Lovecraft. I'm very interested in Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythology about some
unknown horrors; you can't discern their motives. I created those first two
Slender Man pictures
that I'm sure most people know about. And then I thought, 'Well, I don't want to
just do a
picture. I want to add just a little extra to it,' so I made a little bit of
micro fiction. I wrote a
description of the photo, just to make it a little bit more interesting, and the
response I got was
immediate. Everyone thought it was kind of creepy and really cool, so I
continued making some
more posts-I think I made about nine or ten in total, creating a story arc of
this thing, this
Slender Man that everyone really grabbed onto; they just ran with it and quickly
a Slender Man
mythology was growing.
"Slender Man became so popular and went viral. There was just something about
that's uncontrollable and in some ways belonged to the Internet," notes producer
The Story/The Characters
"It's a classic story of four girls who become curious about Slender Man and end
falling down the rabbit hole," says director Sylvain White. "The night starts
off as an ordinary
slumber party, a get together like the girls have had many times before, but
tonight they're trying
to do something they heard the guys would be doing doing, an absurd notion of
Slender Man online. Curious, they follow the links but certainly don't think
much of it-it's just
another fun evening, and after they watch the weird video, they're completely
unaware that its
effects already taking hold of them."
"A couple of weeks later," continues producer Brad Fischer, "these four best
Hallie, Wren, Chloe and Katie, are on a class trip to an old historic graveyard.
Katie's acting a
little bit weird and ends up disappearing, and it's through trying to find out
what happened to
their friend that the other girls start to believe that it could be Slender Man
that's behind it all.
And they too start to fall down the same rabbit hole as their friend."
"The story is about the relationships between these girls who have different
lives and triggers that ultimately lead them to believe in Slender Man and fall
manipulations," says Julia Goldani Telles, who plays sensible Hallie. "It's
about each of them
fighting herself and all of them fighting each other as they try to figure out
what the truth is and
what the lies are. It's about mass hysteria, how a secret subconscious language
can lead to
hysterical beliefs that originate from your brain."
"These four friends decide one night to try and summon Slender Man. It's just
like a Ouija board," notes Joey King, "and they think nothing will come of it.
Of course a week
later, weird little signs begin. It's a gradual buildup and it's really creepy
because you don't want
to hit the audience full on in the face in the first twenty minutes of the film.
You watch these
friends, who are so tight, as each of their worlds start to crumble and
desperation takes over."
"The girls have known each other for a very long time. They grew up in this
eastern industrial town that's probably had its heyday in the '50s and '60s but
has now been left
behind," observes director Sylvain White. "The unemployment rate is high; it's a
struggling, so we see this generation of kids that's growing up within that
common bond and goal is to leave the town to try and look for something better.
their current environment drives them to look for something more exciting and
their need to
move on drives a curiosity that leads them to Slender Man and their true
Slender Man/Javier Botet
"Slender Man is very tall being with super long arms who appears to wear a suit
says producer Brad Fischer. "While he has no face, no facial features, when he's
looking at you,
you know that he's looking at you (which I think it's one of the things that
makes him so creepy).
He also has tentacles that extend from out from his back that allow his body to
look like it's
hanging as he makes his way towards you as if from a gallows."
"Slender Man is widely known as being just a man in a suit," says Sylvain White,
"however certain theories express that he came from another dimension, or
there's something otherworldly about him, and I'm embracing that, veering away
concrete idea of a suit. In fact I think it's really interesting to reveal in
the end that it's not a
suit-that it's something else."
"The portrayal of his physicality for this movie falls into how I always felt
Slender Man," says Knudsen. "As he sits in the periphery of your consciousness
perception, he might just seem like a normal guy in a suit. He's a little tall,
but the more you pay
attention to him and the more directly you interact with him, the more apparent
his true nature
becomes. So, like in the case of this movie, once you are completely involved
and are face to
face with the Slender Man, you see him for his true horrific nature. That's
exactly how I thought
to portray him. A man in a suit represents the power structure we have today-a
patriarchy, a male-oriented social structure. Maybe in the past, when Slender
Man appeared, he
might have appeared in different guises. Like, in the Middle Ages, he might
appear in a monk's
robes or, in Japan, he might have appeared in Samurai armor-whatever kind of
authority or a menacing authority."
"When you want to cast Slender Man, you want somebody who's really tall and
it doesn't stop there, of course," says Sylvain White. "You need somebody who's
going to be
able to create the character with movement, with his body. And there's nobody
better than Javier
Botet to express the kind of morphology that we were looking for. He's an
amazing artist able to
perform things with his body that are unique and incredible while at the same
time be able to
portray a specific personality. He's expressed that he felt as if he were born
to do this role-and
we take that very seriously.
"First and foremost Javier is an amazing actor with great control of his body,"
producer Brad Fischer. "Having played creatures before, he has a great technical
with the camera and an intuitive understanding of what he needs to do to bring
complicated character to life in the most horrifying way. It's not as simple as
applied and just showing up and standing there. It's a very rigorous process
that requires a lot of
discipline and we're thrilled to have Javier. Getting him was actually one of
the biggest coups
that we pulled off."
"Every monster is different challenge," says Botet (who The Hollywood Reporter
"the most in-demand monster man since Boris Karloff stomped around the Universal
bolts sticking out of his neck"*). "Like every normal character is in many ways
you try to understand the monster's background because each try to reach you in
a different way.
Some characters are aggressive and violent. Some fear you more than you fear
them, like an
animal, and defend his space. And some other characters, like for example,
Slender Man, are
more fluid. He is very stylish, very cold, very flowing in our minds. He has no
fear because he
is the fear. He's in another dimension. He's in your mind. So, yes, in my
movements I try not to
make any nervous moves, not to reach you in a violent way, because he's not a
I'm not moving at all the legs because I don't need to be in attack position, I
don't need to jump
forward fast and I don't need to run away. And as the fears of the principal
growing, the energy reaching toward them is growing."
Botet's performance and creation of the character is accomplished almost
practical terms. "I love when the CGI helps the practicals," he notes, "and not
when the CGI is
everything. We made Slender Man almost all the time as a practical, my body with
makeup, prosthetics [created and applied by Adrien Morot and his team]. But the
example, they are a good part to do with CGI-you could try to do them with
practicals but I
think it would be crazy to move all these tentacles."
"Javier's look is completely terrifying," says Joey King. "When you meet him
a nice guy, such a sweetheart. He's already a presence in his own right-a very,
very tall man,
very, very thin. And then when he gets in costume it's bone chilling. The
fingers are so long
and the way he moves his body-I mean he's so good at it, my bones shake and it
"Coming up with the design for Slender Man was really exciting to me, says
White. "So I put a lot of thought and effort into it. I did a lot of research
and from there I took
my ideas and, working with a concept artist, saw them come to shape. Once we had
that I was pretty happy with we went to Adrien Morot's team and they started
working on the
replication of our concept art."
Director Sylvain White
"Sylvain is a fantastic visual story teller," notes producer Brad Fischer.
tendency in genre films to do the bare minimum-get the scares and walk away. But
wants to make it great, which shouldn't be the exception to the rule. His
ambitions are enormous
with this movie and I think it really pays off. Responding to a challenge that
might have an easy
visual effects solution, he'll make it work in camera, which I think pays off in
a big way and
really scare people."
"Sylvain created a reel specifically for this project that he sent to us [for
and it was simply brilliant!" remembers producer Sarah Snow. "One of our biggest
when we were looking at directors would be to find someone who truly understood
and could really capture how terrifying he was-and we new immediately, looking
just at that
reel, that Sylvain understood Slender Man."
"In terms of the look and feel of the film we're doing a lot of things to get
away from the
studio genre aesthetic," says Sylvain White. "I'm really trying to give it a
sort of a European
flair, almost an indie flair, but at the same time grounding it in this tone of
pure horror. So it's
about finding the right balance. Pairing with DP Luca Del Puppo, who, like
myself, is also
European helps with this sensibility. We're trying to approach the material
sideways instead of
frontwards and we're able to create some very interesting frames that might be
considered a little
artsy for the genre, but we're going fully ahead and are very happy with what
we've got. We're
embracing that the movie's tone and feel is very dark but at the same time, it's
There's a quality of surrealism that is important and the key reference to me,
in terms of how I
saw the movie from the beginning, is an old film by Luis Bunuel that he
collaborated on with
Salvador Dali, called Un Chien Andalou. That film really created the core vector
"It was important to us-and especially important to Sylvain-that our movie felt
grounded," notes executive producer Louis Sallerson, "that it didn't feel like
Scream with its
high-class suburbs and beautiful mansions. It was important that the characters
Americans, that their lives were representative of real-life struggles, because
we saw Slender
Man as a vehicle of escape for these characters-a dark escape but an escape
"I was really excited actually that we were going to film in New England" says
"because I was led to believe that New England was full of inter-dimensional
Lovecraft, one of Knudsen's inspirations, lived in Providence, RI.)
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