An excellent new review from Robert Goerman of my recently published book, "The Slenderman Mystreries."
The Slenderman Mysteries: An Internet Urban Legend Comes to Life
by Nick Redfern
Publisher: New Page Books (February 19, 2018)
Paperback: 288 pages
Reviewed by Robert A. Goerman
Well, soak me in gasoline and hand me a lighter... I must confess to originally never giving all this "Slenderman" business a second thought. Nick Redfern changes all that. The Slenderman Mysteries: An Internet Urban Legend Comes to Life leaves readers feeling like helpless bugs trapped in a violently shaken jar.
Eric Knudsen has an epiphany. Prompted by a Photoshop contest to manipulate ordinary photos into scary paranormal images, he "creates" The Slender Man (now known simply as Slenderman) during a "boring" afternoon at work. Knudsen admits to throwing together the two original images in about fifteen minutes and that "it was pretty spontaneous." The black-and-white photographs depict a very tall and emaciated "man" in a black suit. His arms and legs are way too long and spiderlike. He has no hair or face. Tentacles protrude from his back. He is lurking behind a group of children. Using the pseudonym of "Victor Surge," Knudsen downloads the doctored photos, accompanied by some tantalizing text, to the Something Awful (SA) website forum and The Slender Man is born on June 10, 2009. Wednesday's child is full of woe.
In an interview, Knudsen adds, "You’ve seen him, now you can’t unsee him."
As I independently research each aspect while reading Nick Redfern's book, I am amazed and alarmed as to how effortlessly Knudsen's nightmarish contagion is crafted and the efficient incubation period of the psycho-virus. "Slendermania" spreads like wildfire. Redfern writes that "None of this occurred in weeks or even months. It all happened within days."
It gets weirder.
On the night of November 6, 2009, George Noory, host of the hugely popular paranormally themed talk-show Coast to Coast AM, takes a number of calls from people who claim to have personally encountered an entity resembling Slenderman. Some claim the Slenderman invades their dreams. Others see the Slenderman in the real world.
My colleague, the Reverend Robin Swope, has many narratives concerning encounters with Slenderman. Many of these predate the invention of the mythos. These are detailed in his 2012 book Slenderman: From Fiction to Fact.
What is happening here?
Who or what is the Slenderman? Is he a mind-created Tulpa or thought-form that can stride out of our darkest imaginations and into reality if enough people believe in him? Is Eric Knudsen a creator or conduit? Is the Internet awake and tormenting us with equivalents of our very own online nightmares? Is he summoned by Chaos Magic? Is Slenderman the "reborn face of an ancient evil?" There are far more questions and theories and synchronicities than answers.
On May 31, 2014, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, both twelve, lure their friend, fellow sixth-grader Payton “Bella” Leutner, into the woods near their Waukesha, Wisconsin suburb. What happens next becomes international news. Geyser and Weier stab Leutner nineteen times and then leave her to die, hoping that her death will make them worthy of becoming servants or "proxies" of Slenderman. Their victim survives the attack and Geyser and Weier are arrested, tried, and sentenced. Slenderman becomes a household word. The horrific tragedy now haunts every attempt to research this topic.
I do not envy Nick Redfern on this endeavor. The Slenderman Mysteries: An Internet Urban Legend Comes to Life covers a lot of territory. Interviews are conducted with the likes of Jenny Coleman, Mike Huberty, Allison Jornlin, Tea Krulos, Olav Phillips, Kimberly Rackley, Robin Swope, and Ian Vincent.
Whenever I examine any reported encounter with the paranormal, I attempt to ascertain the temperature of the witness. In a COLD encounter, the witness is minding their own business, with nary a thought about the unknown and unexplained. During WARM encounters, the witness has a temporary involvement with the paranormal spurred by mild curiosity or social pressure. They may be playing with a Ouija board or participating in an amateur hunt for ghosts or cryptids. HOT encounters involve individuals who are in active pursuit of the paranormal.
One of my favorite cases in The Slenderman Mysteries: An Internet Urban Legend Comes to Life is very HOT. "Lacy," a trainee flight attendant from Erie, Pennsylvania becomes overwhelmingly obsessed with the the saga of the Slenderman, reading all that she could about the subject. One book that she reads is Slenderman: From Fiction to Fact.
Lacy always keeps her laptop computer on a coffee table in her living room. On three occasions in 2016, her device, which was in sleep-mode, wakes up. The first time it briefly displays an image looking like a cross between a man and a long-legged bug. The second time it clearly displays Slenderman's non-face. On the final occasion, a voice announces: "We are friends." Lacy immediately drops her research into the Slenderman, deletes all her files on the subject, and burns her copy of Reverend Swope's book in a metal container in her mother's yard. Slenderman did not return.
There is a history of paranormal phenomena emanating from telephones, radios, and televisions. Haunted computers seems to be the next phase.
There is also a history of "psychic backlash." Sometimes, when a person becomes too deeply immersed in paranormal investigation and research, the phenomena appears to realize that it is being watched and responds. Usually, not in a positive manner. John Keel and others, warn us, time and time again, about the dangers of contemplating supernatural entities.
Be careful what you wish for.
We may want to prepare ourselves for a new wave of "Slendermania." Slender Man is an upcoming supernatural horror film directed by Sylvain White and written by David Birke. The film stars Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso and Talitha Bateman. The monster is portrayed by Javier Botet. A brief summary reads: "Slender Man tells the story of a tall, thin, horrifying figure with unnaturally long arms and a featureless face, who is reputed to be responsible for the haunting and disappearance of countless children and teens." It will be released by Screen Gems on August 24, 2018.
Nick Redfern's book will be a great place to start.