Director: Sylvain White.
My first encounter with Slender Man was with the freeware online game, Slender: The Eight Pages, that went viral back in 2012 scaring the bejesus out of everyone that played it. Actually, what dared me to play the game was the YouTube videos of people playing Slender, watching their reactions of nervous laughter and all out fear.
So, this meant I went into the screening assuming this was a horror flick based on the phenomenal game, but sadly no, and as was exiting the cinema accusing the production team of not even having played the game, disrespecting it’s source material or totally missing out on some great potential.
But, after a little research, I discover that the game itself was based on a recent folklore meme created by Eric Knudsen (credited as his pseudonym Victor Surge) back in 2009. It’s apart of this creepypasta movement that exploded via internet forums and chain letter style emails with copy and pasted (Hence the origin of creepypasta) images of folklore legends, many of which relating to ancient urban myths and horror stories. This being a competition to who could create the best paranormal images and so Slender Man was born in the Internet.
I also discover that this isn’t the first film to feature Slender Man with an American found footage film Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story which starred the famed, lanky and gaunt Doug Jones back in 2015. And there’s a number of smaller independent films and shorts based on Slender Man. I’ve yet to watch any of these films so it’s impossible for me to make any fair comparisons.
So, I went in expecting a film based on the computer game and sadly was greeting with something totally uninspiring and unrelating apart from the scary no-faced character. But does knowing this might not have been inspired by the game make this film any better or forgivable? Hell, no! As a stand alone horror, it’s terribly executed and unoriginal, snatching bits from other horrors like The Ring in terms of myth and more recently the Autopsy of Jane Doe in terms of imagery.
So, four girls hear about a scary video that claims to have some connection to children’s disappearances across the globe and so, they dare themselves to watch it during a sleepover, inviting a dark and sinister entity into their lives, the Slender Man. An urban legend that abducts children or sends them crazy with continually hauntings and nightmares.
It’s a basic story which needn’t be trashed with poor performances or poor editing. I’m partly in conflict as to which owes more to the failure of this film, because their performances are no way aided by the obvious chopped up ending which would have an effect on the entire film. The trailers clearly indicates the film had some serious re-edits with so many loose ends that they couldn’t have been simply forgot about, because there’s some screenshots that hint at more of some of the character’s unfinished stories.
But then I read about the controversy that spooked studios and distribution about promoting and even releasing the film. The Waukesha stabbing in 2014 where two 12year old girls stabbed a fellow classmate apparently to appease Slender Man and out of fear of him killing their families if they did not comply. When this film was announced, one of the fathers of the girls who committed the stabbing, urged local cinemas to refrain from showing the film, calling it “extremely distasteful” And this isn’t an isolated incident, there has been a number of acts of adolescent violence spurred on by the Slender Man myth.
But ignoring the controversy, the film is poorly made and is not a good representation for director Sylvain White’s relatively small filmography. It’s super clichéd with bad plot lines, poorly acted and has such a weak script, and even weaker scares. The script and story are just plain stupid most of the time, again maybe owing a lot to bad edits, but no one would venture into dark woods, or walk the street alone at night when under threat. The imagery isn’t that terrible, trippy and subliminal at times but it’s nothing new and isn’t enough to save the film at all.
Considering the amount of source material there is, and for me, just coming from the game; there’s so much potential that got sadly wasted and missed that makes me believe I could make a better Slender Man movie. Only thing I thought suited the film was some of the sounds, the tolling bells and the looming hum.
This film is begging for a spoof, especially when one character prematurely expresses his sex face. It’s just one of the worse horrors I’ve seen lately, it’s one of the worse films I’ve ever seen.
Running Time: 1
The Cast: 1
Job Description: 0
The Extra Bonus Point: 0