'Beware the Slenderman' premieres at Milwaukee Film Festival

The local crime that stunned the world
Posted at 10:46 AM, Sep 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-25 11:46:01-04

MILWAUKEE -- A local crime that stunned the world is the focus of a new documentary.

Hundreds from the community came to dig deeper into the ‘Slender Man’ crime at the Milwaukee Film Festival Saturday afternoon.

"We all saw (it) in the news, we all read about it in the paper and it's something very close to home," said viewer Monica Moe.

'Beware the Slenderman' takes a look back at the infamous 2014 crime out of Waukesha when two 12-year-olds allegedly attempted to kill their friend in order to please the fictional character. Payton Leutner was stabbed nineteen times after a sleepover.

"I thought boy, those girls are crazy. What's wrong with them?" said another documentary viewer.

The film shows confessions from the two girls and details their obsession with ‘Slenderman’. The girls believed he wanted them to kill their friend.

"I think you can't responsibly talk about this crime without talking about the Internet," said film director Irene Taylor-Brodsky. 

Taylor-Brodsky said the documentary set out to display the negative impact of 24-7 connectivity. The focus turned to mental health as one of the 12-year-olds was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

"I really feel for her that she does have a serious mental illness that I think had a big part in this," Moe said.

However, with the main characters being the perpetrators and their families, some felt sympathy was lost for the victim.

"I feel sorry for them but what about that girl who was stabbed?" asked a viewer of the documentary. 

"I think this film would look very different if we had been able to work with Payton's family," Taylor-Brodsky said. 

The film hits the air on HBO in January. Both perpetrators in the case are set to be tried as adults next year.