Movie Review - Slender Man
The unnecessary film debut of an uninteresting internet spook sensation that is several years too late to really matter.
I straight up don’t even know where to start with this movie. I mean, I knew going in that it was supposed to be not great. Hell, it’s a PG-13 horror movie released at the tail end of summer, which tells me exactly what I will, and will not, be getting. Even the guy running the ticket counter at the theater was like “I heard it’s not THAT terrible?” Like, he didn’t want to tell potential customers what a steaming pile of shit they were buying tickets for. But, because I’m a sucker for anything spooky, I still had the slightest sliver of hope. Honestly, if there’s any genre of cinema where fans are apt to be more than a little forgiving, it’s horror. However, just because a fair number of horror classics are grassroots affairs shot on a shoestring budget doesn’t mean that every half-baked spooky idea is going to translate well onto the big screen. Yes, horror fans will tolerate a lot, and there are plenty of scary tales that started out as word of mouth stories that grew bigger and bolder, but I can honestly say that the whole Slender Man “phenomenon” is just about the worst modern horror concept I’ve experienced. But still, no guts, no glory. And sometimes a movie will wow me or surprise me just enough that I’ll give it a pass.
This was NOT one of those times. Not even close.
I think that’s mainly because, as this movie more than adequately demonstrates, there is simply no solid concept for what the Slender Man really is. They say that some children he steals, while some he leaves behind as hollow and crazy shells of their former selves, but in the movie he simply takes everyone. Not always at once, but eventually he takes them all. Why does he leave some around for a minute, while taking others immediately, especially since the “legend” clearly states that he definitely leaves some behind for good? Dunno. And apparently neither do the creators. Because even a mysterious exposition character who we never actually meet gets taken, along with literally everyone else, over the span of several days. So, honestly, just update the stupid legend and say he takes everyone. Oh, and supposedly if you look into his not-face, it makes you all sorts of cuckoo and you fall under his spell. But, our characters see him all the time, and have numerous up close run-ins with him and his not-face, and yet only one gets Slenderized by his…gaze? So, it only works sometimes? Because we see his face almost the whole goddamn runtime, and only one chick goes mentally AWOL. Hurray for consistency. Oh, and then he ends up taking her anyways. So why bother making her crazy in the first place? And then of course there’s the whole issue with the Slender Man himself. The dude can phase right through doors and walls like a ghost, unless someone is looking directly at where he would do just that…in which case he has to creep under the gap in the door as a black fog. Because…tension? I dunno. If it were me, I think I’d be more scared to see some 9 foot tall faceless mortician-looking dude simply walk through a door like it wasn’t there vs. going all Dracula and seeping under the door like the world’s dirtiest vape smoke. Also, is he a tall apparition? Is he a grabby tree? Wait, is he a suit-wearing arachnid? Because in this clusterfuck of a movie he’s all of those things. And why does he take some children into the ether, while others he turns into teenage fertilizer? Oh, and in one of the most blatant rip-offs I’ve yet seen, you have to summon the Slender Man by watching a badly edited video. That’s right, the creators of Slender Man couldn’t even find an original way to summon their creature, so they had to steal the concept of The Ring. No, I’m not talking an homage or an “inspired by” moment. These lazy hacks totally hijack the summoning method of The Ring, and in the process make it even less scary than it was in that movie.
Speaking of scary…isn’t this supposed to be a horror movie? I mean, I get that it’s PG-13, but I still expected more in the way of chills. Hell, the trailer for The Nun that played before Slender Man had more creep and jump scares than the entire runtime of Slender Man itself (which was way too long by the way). Just because you don’t want to have sex or swears in your movie (in a studio bid to maximize their potential audience) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try to have some scenes that generate real fear.
So the movie wasn’t scary, the legend is plain stupid, and it is way too long for its own good. But does the movie do anything right? Well…kinda sorta. I mean, I liked that the main cast was a group of female friends, which is a nice switch from the “boys club” feel of most horror movies. The movie tries to make an attempt to have the girls seem like any young ladies from a small town. Well, except for the fact that they, and basically all of their friends and love interests, are way too attractive and made-up for such a small and slightly impoverished town. Hell, even the girl who has a booze-hound father who is perpetually passed out drunk has a closet full of nice clothes and a bitchin’ laptop. Still, she’s the most interesting of the main characters, as there’s almost this hint that maybe her home isn’t entirely safe for a young girl to reside in. And of all the characters, she has some real hardship, since she is living with rampant alcoholism, which can be a dangerous disease to be residing with. But…wanna take a guess as to which character gets taken first? Yes, that’s right, the ONE character who was the most interesting is the one character who gets the least amount of screen time. Which leaves us with;
The slightly strange girl with a quirky name (Wren) who is more into the occult and the bizarre than her friends, and who might have more than friendly feelings for her girlfriends (which would have been a great emotional aspect to the story had the filmmakers had the balls to go there). She’s also the one with the strongest desire to get the missing interesting girl back from the Slender Man. You know, like a real friend would.
The African-American girl who actually kind of pays attention to the people around her, and who generally has more sense than the rest. Oh, and her father died when she was younger, but we never see her mom. She’s actually cute as hell, but the movie doesn’t seem to really know what to do with her. She’s also evidently the only person of color in the whole school. Because, you know, skewed view of reality.
The super skinny well-off white girl who has both her parents, a loving sister, and is eye candy for all the boys. Oh, and she’s kinda shy too, because OF COURSE she is. Is she a star athlete? Is she also a self-absorbed idiot? Does everyone love her anyways? Do I really need to answer any of those questions for you?
And if you’ve seen an American movie in the past 30 years, you mostly know how this is going to play out. Who gets the most screen time? The skinny white girl from a good home. Who gets the love interest? Same chick. Who is so self-absorbed that, even when her friends go missing, she’s all about hooking up with the hunky dude she LITERALLY started talking to just the day before. Yep, you guessed it, the same girl. Sure enough, her friends are vanishing or going crazy, she herself is seeing some insane things, and yet she’s all about that D! Speaking of that D, this chick and her love interest go from their first conversation one day to kissing like lifelong lovers the very next day, with like zero conversation or hesitation in-between. We’re supposed to think she’s all shy and reserved, but she goes straight for the gusto. And damn…all the guy had to do was queue up some classic rock on vinyl and she all hot & ready like a Little Caesars pizza. That dude is SMOOTH!
You know what? There’s so much more that I could say about the movie, but I really don’t want to, because I really don’t care.
I loved the movie experience (the audience was surprisingly quiet and rapt), but I hated the movie. So let’s wrap this up and call it, shall we?
1 out of 5 unoriginal and melodramatic stars!
1) Everyone knows everyone else’s computer passwords? Even the siblings? So…what’s the point of even having passwords then?
2) Goddamn there are a lot of nighttime barking dogs in that little town. How does anyone ever get any sleep?
3) WTF is up with those weird facial shots? There is some seriously bizarre camera work going on in this movie.
4) Since when can you access someone’s psychiatric ward information on your home computer, including that person’s username? These girls aren’t just somehow independently wealthy, but they’re computer hackers too!
5) It’s ok, we can get it on at my house. My dad is out of town, and my mom is at her book club. You know, those really late at night book clubs that run long enough that we totally have time to get busy in my living room? Yeah, that kind of book club. How about I pop on some of my dad’s tunes? Sigh.
6) She tells the Slender Man to take her instead, and then when he shows up to do so, she screams something like “get away from me?” and runs away? Ummmmmm…you do understand what self-sacrifice means, yes?
7) To the teenage girl sitting a few rows behind, who uttered “that was soooooo good!” as the credits started to roll…you poor little sheltered thing. Please ask your parents if you can watch their weathered copies of Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, or something along those lines. Please?
Everyone is really good looking, like they are in teen movies, but absolutely nothing is shown. Hell, there was more skin on display in the theater than on the screen.
Nobody is inherently terrible, but there’s really not much to go on. The actresses seemed to have been given only two instructions; look worried or look confused. Sometimes they even mix worry with their confusion!
A couple of halfway decent scenery shots add more tension than the Slender Man himself, but the bizarre camera tricks don’t always have the desired disorienting effect.
It’s PG-13, so it’s non-existent. Besides, the Slender Man don’t want no blood on his nice suit, so he just mesmerizes them with his non-face (but only from 2 feet away apparently…he’s got a really shitty range on that particular power, like a cheap pair of Bluetooth headphones).
I’ll give the movie props. They could have had a ton of teen pop songs doing their absolute best to diminish what little tension there was, but surprisingly the producers didn’t do that. There is an actual score here, but I don’t really recall much of it, so that’s all that needs to be said.