Friday, 22 July 2016

Beware The Slenderman: NZIFF Review

Beware The Slenderman: NZIFF Review

If Beware the Slenderman does anything, it's to show once again that real life is as spooky as and stranger than fiction.

In a doco that feels unfinished, due to the ongoing court case of two girls in mid-America accused of attempting to murder their friend, Beware the Slenderman seems more concerned with the realities behind the perpetrators, rather than sensationalism.

Starting with found footage that wouldn't be out of place in either The Blair Witch Project or the inevitable Slenderman film, Irene Taylor Brodsky's doco seems to choose the more sensationalist approach as a starting point. Exploring the back story of the urban legend, the film's predilection with the titular character is almost as obsessive as the shaky cam videos that scatter the Internet and purport to show the be-suited pale faced creation.

It's definitely about context, but once this side is laid to rest, what emerges, thanks to a combination of both police interviews and talking heads, is a more tragic tale that's not as easy to lay blame at.

The parents of both Morgan and Anissa are interviewed; and in a move that will stun the ready-to-damn world, they prove to be rational sensible folk, caught aghast in the fallout from their offspring's behaviour. If anything, that's where the more troubling parts of this doco lie- despite interludes from digi folklorists and psychologists, there's nothing to detract from the basic human  liability behind these crimes.

Unfortunately as the film heads toward its end, it's clear the struggle over how to try these kids is nowhere near finished and so Brodsky's doco (and consequently the audience) is robbed of resolution. Equally the ongoing case means no interviews with either Morgan, Anissa or their victim which feels difficult to reconcile.

Ultimately, Beware The Slenderman is more about tragedy than urban legend. And thanks to a non judgemental construction, Brodsky's doco is a smart, chilling insight into the digital age that continues, god forbid, to gather pace at an extremely alarming rate.

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