Horror meme may step into mainstream

NEW YORK • Slender Man, a blank-faced horror meme that was born on the Internet and used as the inspiration for countless short-story adaptations and a real- life grisly stabbing, soon could extend his long-limbed reach to mainstream movie audiences.

It is rare for a meme to attract Hollywood's attention, but three production studios see potential in turning Slender Man into a video game, a television show, a virtual reality experience or a doll.

The story of the ghoulish creature is a blank except for a few basics: He has unnaturally long limbs, wears a suit, hangs out in the woods and preys on children. He is said to have originated as a Photoshop creation that a man named Eric Knudsen submitted to an online contest in 2009.

Fans have long awaited the cinematic rise of Slender Man. The character has been the subject of small- budget films and was recently rumoured to be a possible inspiration for American Horror Story. But this is the first time Hollywood is focusing on a meme in the same way it would explore the expansion of, say, a comic-book character.

The sinister meme received nationwide attention in 2014 when it was cited as the inspiration for a high-profile crime: Two 12-year- old girls in Waukesha, Wisconsin, were accused of stabbing a classmate 19 times. Officials said that act was inspired by a desire to impress Slender Man. Both girls are still awaiting trial.

Mythology Entertainment, whose works have included the movie White House Down (2013), secured intellectual property rights from Knudsen. It has partnered two other studios to explore TV show and video game possibilities.

Screen Gems, a division of Sony Entertainment, is negotiating with Mythology to produce and distribute a movie based on the horror meme, according to a spokesman. The script is still being written, but the film could begin production as early as autumn.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2016, with the headline 'Horror meme may step into mainstream'. Print Edition | Subscribe