Personally, I'm a big fan of Slendy. There are very few monsters that can genuinely creep me out, and this guy is one of them. I have spent more time than I'm willing to admit losing sleep because of a Marble Hornets entry or chickening around in Slender.
The fact that he is so very creepy is what fascinates me about the Slender Man. As a psychology fan and an anthropology student, I feel the need to do some digging. What exactly makes the Slender Man so terrifying? Why is it that grown ass men can't play a game of Slender without wanting to cry?
To answer that question, we have to first define the Slender Man. So, unlike the post of my dear DraconisTheory, we will be digging into the history of Slendy and the finer points of his popularity.
Although he has no exact origin, The Slender Man myth is said to date back as far as 17th century Germany. In Germanic fairy tales, he was known as Der Ritter - an exceptionally tall man dressed as a knight or a royal figure. In those times, he was meant to be a cautionary tale for children. Leave it to the Germans to come up with something so damn creepy.
See that nasty thing on the right?
Slendy allegedly appeared again in the 1900s. This time, he was said to be a freakishly tall man in a suit who had no face. Sometimes he had tentacles, other times he did not. Sightings came from America, Canada, the UK, Germany, and Russia. Most of the reports associated with him were of missing children. Around the mid-1900s, reports came from Germany of soldiers having run-ins with the Slender Man in the forest. Similar reports came from America and Canada, where skiers and children went missing in forested areas. Around the 1980s, a series of buildings supposedly went up in flames for unknown reasons, causing several deaths. This fire became the point of origin for our modern-day Slender Man.
So how did he make it to the vast interwebz?
In 2009, Something Awful Forums launched a paranormal picture contest in which participants were required to take ordinary photos and digitally manipulate them into something creepy and sinister. Then those photographs had to be posted on a number of paranormal forums as authentic photos. An SA user by the name of Victor Surge entered two black and white photographs with a short description naming the Slender Man - a mysterious creature that stalked children.
These two photographs appeared with the following caption:
"We didn't want to go, we didn't want to kill them, but it's persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time..." 1983, photographer unknown, presumed dead.
One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as "The Slender Man". Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occured one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence. -1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13, 1986.
And so the Slender Man came to the interwebz. He quickly caught the attention of several websites, the most notable being 4chan. He spread to Unfiction Forums, Fangoria, Bungie, /x/enopedia, TVTropes, DeviantArt, SlenderNation, and Mythical Creatures Guide. This sparked the first of many pseudo-documentaries concerning the Slender Man.
The most popular video accounts come from the Marble Hornets project. This project consists of a series of entries on Youtube that are supposedly tape segments recovered by someone named Jay. These uncovered tapes contain footage of a friend that had disappeared. The tapes document both the unraveling of the friend (Alex) and Jay's search for the truth about what happened to him. In the project, Slendy is known as "The Operator". There are more than 60 videos in the series right now, and the project is still going.
Other video documentations of the Slender Man have since appeared. These other projects include EverymanHYBRID, DarkHarvest00, MLAndersen0, and TribeTwelve.
Slendy makes an appearance in Marble Hornets.
Slendy didn't stop at taking over Youtube. Oh no. He even has his own game: Slender (Parsec Productions, download it. It's free!). Now, I could be eloquent and give you a proper overview of the game. But that doesn't do it justice. So instead, I am going to give you a more realistic version. Slender is a simple enough game. You're in the woods with a flashlight. You don't know why you're in the woods. But you are. And you have to wander around in these creepy, dark woods until you find landmarks. There are eight pieces of paper posted on these landmarks. And these pieces of paper have weird, creepy shit written on them. And the whole time you're in these creepy woods looking for these stupid pieces of paper, the Slender Man is behind you, stalking you like the creepy fuck that he is. But you can't run away from him because you're either fat or a child or possibly a fat child. Whatever you are, you're not built for running and you'll make it about three yards before you have to slow down. But Slendy doesn't like to play fair, so any time you find a piece of paper you better haul ass back into the woods. Because finding paper makes Slendy stalk in hyperspeed. You can tell when he's close because you'll hear creepy ass noises and your screen gets all distorted. If it goes completely static, then congratulations: you've been caught by the Slender Man and will probably die in a horrible fashion.
All that aside, it really is an unsettling game, and has often been compared to Amnesia: The Dark Descent for it's scare factor. Although it is a much simpler game than Amnesia, the reaction videos are just as hilarious. I highly encourage you to go watch them.
Go in the bathroom, they said. It will be fine, they said.
So know that we know who the Slender Man is and where he came from, we need to explore how he operates before we can determine why he's so frightening.
Old-school Slendy was very violent. He displayed highly agressive behaviors such as impaling his victims on trees, leaving them to bleed to death, or ripping out a victim's organs. Children were his sole target.
However, the modern Slender Man is not quite as violent, but somehow much more sinister than his older counterpart. The modern Slender Man is passive aggressive toward his victims. He will stalk his target continuously, and torment the individual by repeatedly making his presence known in an invasive way - appearing inside or around the target's home, on a road during travel, at the workplace when the target is alone, or while the target is sleeping. This elimination of any safe zone tends to spark uneasiness and paranoia in the victim. However, Slendy will probably not attack for a long time. Instead, he will just continue to follow his victims and creep them the fuck out.
If targeted over an extended period of time, victims will usually experience a delve into madness. Paranoia takes over; the victim doesn't feel safe anywhere. Wild mood swings occur, and constant irritation is present. Victims suffer from "Slender Sickness", which is marked by coughing fits, coughing up blood, nausea, vomiting, bloody nose, and fever. The most prominent effect of Slender Sickness is amnesia. Victims will often awaken with no idea where they are, what they are doing, or how they got there. Memory loss can be a period of hours, days, weeks, or even months. It's undetermined whether this memory loss is a defense mechanism triggered by an encounter with the Slender Man, or the work of Slendy himself. Either way, the victim ends up with a life that is in ruins.
When a Slendy target does finally disappear, it is usually not by direct action of the Slender Man. Victims usually disappear on their own, leaving no trace behind. Victims are never found. It is uncertain where exactly the victims go, or what happens to them after they disappear. Any video documentation of an encounter with Slendy is highly distorted (another known effect of his presence), making it almost impossible to see exactly what occurs when he appears.
Another shot of Slendy, courtesy of Marble Hornets.
Now I can answer the question I've wanted to answer all along. Why is the Slender Man so fucking terrifying? What is it about him that makes people want to shut their laptops and never sleep again?
I have a guess. This is my "educated opinion" if you will, and I don't claim to be any sort of expert on Slendy or the complex workings of the human psyche.
The Slender Man is scary for two reasons:
1. He's invasive.
2. He's a plethora of uncertainties.
Allow me to elaborate.
We as a species like the idea of having a safe place we can retreat to. That's why we have doors that lock. So we can keep danger out of our safe place. That is also why we like groups. We like to be with other humans, because that will prevent us from being isolated in a dangerous or otherwise fear-inducing situation.We'd rather be terrified with someone else than terrified alone. But really, we'd prefer not to be terrified at all.
The Slender Man rips that comfort right out from underneath us. Most monsters have some weakness, or some way that you can escape from them. Some monsters can't go out in the sunlight. Some can only get to you when you're alone. Some can't leave the premises they're found on. Some can be killed. Some, like the monsters in Amnesia, can be hidden from.
Not Slender Man.
Slendy doesn't give a fuck where you are or what you're doing. He's there. Daytime, nighttime. Alone, or around other people. In the woods, in your house, in your workplace, in the shower. Slendy doesn't give a fuck. If you're sleeping, fucking, eating, whatever you're doing, he's fucking watching you. And nothing can stop him. Walls? Fuck that, Slender Man can teleport. And as far as anyone knows, there's no way to kill him.
Not only does Slendy invade your personal space and make you feel completely unsafe wherever you are, he invades your body and your mind. Once you come into contact with him, you're done for. You lose your shit. You can't remember anything. And the whole time you're losing your shit and trying to remember what the fuck is going on, you're coughing up blood and trying not to puke all over the place. The only thing you can do is wander around while your entire psyche crumbles and wait until you lose your shit so much that you just disappear somewhere and you're never heard from again.
If Slendy wants to find you, he will find you. You can't escape him. And even when he's gone, you haven't escaped. Once he's got you, he's got you for good and there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it. Game over.
The second terrifying element of Mr. Slender is the uncertainty that surrounds him. Human beings are constantly trying to figure out the world around them. We want to pick everything apart and understand why it is the way it is. How it works. What it does. If we can't figure that out, it bothers us on every level of our existence. It makes us question the very fabric of the universe if we can't make sense of something.
Now let's think about Slendy for a second. Where did he really come from? No one knows. Why does he do what he does? No one knows. How exactly does he do it? No one knows. No one really knows anything about him other than the fact that he's tall, faceless, and drives people to madness.
That's exactly the same reason why Hannibal Lecter is so scary. Aside from the mention of survival in Hannibal Rising, no one knows why this vastly intelligent psychiatrist eats people. He just does it. And that is fucking unsettling.
Slender Man just torments people, and that's all we really know about him. That's all we're ever going to know about him. And as humans, that creeps us out on an instinctual level. If we can't understand something, we fear it.
Maybe he has a reason. Or maybe Slendy is just a sick fuck. Either way, the reaction he induces is one of unadulterated fear. And rightly so - he triggers two of our psyches' most sensitive points.
Now that I have thoroughly bored and/or terrified you all, have some Slender memes.
This is also what I think when Skype gets all weird on me.
No Slendy, that's okay. You can keep the juice.