Sony Pictures has been slammed for appearing to capitalise on the character of online horror meme Slender Man in a new movie, despite its links to a horrifying real-life attack.
Bill Weier, who has strongly criticised the filmmakers, is the father of Anissa Weier, who with her friend Morgan Geyser lured their classmate Payton Leutner to woodland in a Milwaukee suburb in 2014, after reading the fictionalised stories of the Slender Man online.
12-year-old Geyser then stabbed Leutner 19 times, believing that by doing so they would appease the bogeyman, become his followers and thus prevent him from harming their own families.
Leutner miraculously survived the attack, crawling to the roadside where she was found by a cyclist who called 911.
Weier was sentenced to 25 years in a state mental institution in December last year, while Geyser (pictured below) will be sentenced in February.
“It’s absurd they want to make a movie like this,” Bill Weier told the Associated Press.
“It’s popularising 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.”
Though the full plot of the movie has not been revealed, scenes from the newly-released trailer show drawings on a wall which reputedly resemble some drawn by Geyser, and also scenes in which the Slender Man stalks a girl in the woods, and another where a girl stabs herself with a scalpel in school.
Sony is yet to comment on the matter.
The online meme was created by Eric Knudsen in 2009, who under the online name of ‘Victor Surge’ invented the character for the Something Awful website, on a thread which encouraged users to create faux supernatural characters on Photoshop.
Fan fiction then fleshed out the legend, which found the faceless, long-limbed character stalking and targeting children, wearing a black suit.
In a statement to the media following the stabbing, he said: “I am deeply saddened by the tragedy in Wisconsin and my heart goes out to the families of those affected by this terrible act.”
Slender Man is due out on May 18.