Jan 082018
one reel

Four generic girls at an unfocused slumber party (Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso) perform an Internet ritual to summon the monstrous Slender Man. They all feel “something,” but mostly deny that. When later one of them vanishes, the others assume it is the work of the evil force, or they deny it, depending on whatever scene was randomly edited it next, and attempt to get their friend back.

Other weak horror films of 2018 (The Nun, Truth or Dare) were marked by being professionally made, and failing due to poor scripts. Slender Man is an exception. Oh, it has a terrible screenplay, but it is incompetently made. The lighting is terrible, making it difficult to see what’s going on and often impossible to make out the characters’ faces. The contrast is off as well, and it has a grainy, video look. I wonder if they even hired someone to do color correction. And there is no indication that anyone involved knew where to set a camera. I’ve seen numerous short film school projects created with more skill. The acting isn’t great, but it hardly matters when random shadows cover the actress’s faces.

The Slender Man character was invented as part of the “Creepypasta” online movement, where people wrote short horror stories claiming they were real. The Slender Man stories went viral. He was described as an extremely tall and slim, featureless humanoid who appeared around children. In 2014 two unstable 12-year-olds attempted to murder a classmate to summon Slender Man. The notoriety made him a hot property and so we got a movie. The victim’s parents were not amused, calling it crass commercialization of their tragedy. I could forgive the filmmakers’ crass commercialization of tragedy if they did it with any style.

The basics are all stolen from better films. There’s a good bit of Candyman (way too much as I couldn’t stop thinking of how inferior this was to it), with a healthy dose of The Ring and A Nightmare on Elm Street sprinkled over it. There’s simply nothing else here. The characters only rise above generic when they slip into being annoying, but they aren’t even annoying in an interesting way. The titular monster is hardly in the film (we get a lot more waving curtains, so if you are frightened of wind blowing through an open window, then there’s something here for you), and is never explained, nor defined. There’s no scares, no emotional beats, and no clever plot moments—there’s hardly a plot at all. It isn’t even memorable enough to rate as truly awful. But then the last point is also its one virtue: it’s easy to forget.

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