Slender Man film accused of 'popularizing' real-life tragedy

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Jan 4, 2018, 9:44 AM EST

With the release of its trailer this week, Slender Man, the film based on the internet-story-turned-viral-sensation is facing criticism from an individual who was personally affected by the character’s real-life ramifications.

Bill Weier, father of one of two Wisconsin girls who attacked their classmate in service of the story’s monster, has slammed the film's studio, Sony Pictures, for supposedly "popularizing a tragedy.”

In an interview with the Associated Press, Weier said, "It's absurd they want to make a movie like this. It's popularizing a tragedy is what it's doing. I'm not surprised but in my opinion it's extremely distasteful. All we're doing is extending the pain all three of these families have gone through.”

Weier also went on to express hope that theaters will opt not to screen the movie when it's released in May.

Weier’s daughter Anissa and Morgan Geyser told police that Slender Man needed them to kill classmate Payton Leutner in order to prove their worth and protect their families. In 2014 Geyser attacked Leutner in a wooded Waukesha, Wisconsin, park, stabbing her 19 times, while Weier egged her on. Leutner escaped and survived, while her assailants have both pleaded guilty and face decades in mental hospitals.

Starring a cast of young actresses, the film is the first fiction feature about Slender Man, though the HBO documentary Beware the Slenderman covered the Wisconsin attack. These girls attend school together and, as seen in the trailer, face violence (sometimes self-inflicted, as when one stabs herself in the head). While The Hollywood Reporter noted alleged similarities between sketches in the trailer and ones that Geyser drew, it remains unclear if the film will use details from the real-life event.

The official synopsis for the film reads as follows: “In a small town in Massachusetts, four high school girls perform a ritual in an attempt to debunk the lore of Slender Man. When one of the girls goes mysteriously missing, they begin to suspect that she is, in fact, his latest victim.”

SYFY WIRE reached out to Sony Pictures, but the studio has yet to comment.