The Slender Man remains, to this day, one of the most horrifying and uniquely vile creations birthed from the Internet. We’ve witnessed countless photographs of missing children, some of which feature an eerie, lean figure lurking in the background; a figure that is said to be able to move with unprecedented speed.
Once you see him, it’s already too late, the legend warns.
Slender Man basks in the shadows. It lies in wait around corners. Many pictures show it in woodland areas, camouflaged among the branches of decaying trees. What’s more disturbing is that the cameras are always found by others, and never once has an owner come forward.
The ‘myth’ and ‘legend’ that surrounds this figure is unexplainable. Where did it come from? Is it real? What does it do with the children it takes? All of these questions only further the fear that Slender Man revels in.
Slender Man sparked an Internet-wide phenomenon. There’s countless image manipulations, an endless array of stories, and even a videogame.
But where did it all start? Admittedly, the answer to said question ruins the mythology of the child-snatching monster. The truth is, someone invented it for a paranormal Photoshopping competition on the SomethingAwful forums.
“I always wondered if it were possible to get one of my own chops in a book, documentary, or web site just by casually leaking it out into the web — whether they’d be supplements to bogus stories or not,” a post by forum user Gerogerigegege reads.
‘Gerogerigegege’ … Adding rubbish Internet names to the equation dispels the disbelief that we all suspend when reading stories like this. If you’re a fan of the legend of Slender Man, I should warn you, it’s all downhill from here.
Three pages into the forum thread, a user by the name of Victor Surge unveiled his entry, two black and white pictures that depict groups of children with a sinister ‘man’ prowling in the distance. These two pictures are responsible for turning Slender Man into the cult Internet meme that haunts a myriad of nightmares.
It’s not often that we, the Internet, are able to track where these phenomenon start, let alone trace it back to the specific forum post. What’s even more interesting is that the post directly below Surge’s offering sums up exactly what happened next:
“You just know a couple of the good ones are going to eventually make it to paranormal websites and be used as genuine.”
A paranormal thread where the poster predicts the future. Nothing weird about that at all …
On May, 5, 2012, Mark J. Hadley posted a document on the Unity forums under the guise of AgentParsec. Come June, 25, Hadley releases a public beta for Slender: The Eight Pages, an indiegame that would release to critical acclaim and can only be described as stressfully-harrowing.
The premise of Slender is that you are stranded in a forest, with only a piss-poor flashlight to illuminate your way. Your goal is to collect (you guessed it) eight pages scattered around the woodlands. In theory, this should be a piece of cake. In practice, it’s terrifying. Picking up the first page spawns Slender Man, somewhere. Picking up further pages enables him to teleport. Picking up even more allows him to teleport into your field of vision.
Once you see him, it’s already too late …
Alone. In a dark area. With a crappy flashlight. Being chased by a monster. Slender: The Eight Pages takes all the tropes that made the Blair Witch Project so haunting, and melds them with a horror villain that isn’t a caricature; one that truly embeds itself in the player’s psyche.
If Slender wasn’t enough of a fright, the gaming world recently learned that there’s going to be a sequel.
Mark Haldey of Parsec Productions has teamed with Blue Isle Studios to turn Slender into a fully-realized videogame. The new title, Slender: The Arrival, will feature more levels, sharper visuals, a stronger storyline, and is dubbed as a ‘re-imagining’ of Slender: The Eight Pages.
Because, Y’know, we haven’t soiled enough briefs yet …
My only concern regarding Slender: The Arrival is whether a big studio keep the horror alive or whether it will be destroyed when Slender makes the transition from indie game to retail videogame. Only time will answer this question fully; but if Mark Hadley is at the helm, I’m confident he’s got what it takes to keep Slender Man as one of the most truly evil horror villains we’ve seen (see Freddy Krueger: A Nightmare on Elm Street) and not turn him into a singing, dancing, comedy villain we are all secretly rooting for (see Freddy Krueger: Freddy vs Jason).
To download the free indie game, Slender: The Eight Pages, [click here]