I like Slender Man. I think the original creepypasta post was awesome; it was original and deliciously mysterious. I liked the game Slender: The Eight Pages, too, it was terrifying. So even though I didn’t like the trailer and heard it had low reviews, I was curious about the Slender Man movie. Well consider my curiosity satisfied, I sat through the entire thing, saw what it had to offer and now I know. I’m going to spoil my review in the first paragraph – it was awful. I’m also going to spoil the movie in the following paragraphs. If you want to see this thing, you shouldn’t be reading my review.
In a small town in Massachusetts, a group of friends, fascinated by the internet lore of the Slender Man, attempt to prove that he doesn’t actually exist – until one of them mysteriously goes missing.
I will give Slender Man this – I was genuinely anxious the whole time I was watching it. I could go so far as to say it was legitimately scary. I’m not sure why – it had nothing to do with what was happening on the screen. Maybe my blood sugar was low, maybe the sub-woofer was set too high, I don’t know. It wasn’t the characters – I didn’t care about them at all and it was obvious they were doomed from the start. I think it might have been the music, which was well done, it was ominous throughout. And there was some great imagery. But combine those with wooden characters and aimless plot and you have the effect of making your characters apprehensive and bored at the same time. Slender Man has shown me that these two emotions CAN be felt in combination.
But isn’t being scared the point of watching a horror movie? Not really. It’s a defining characteristic but it’s not why you go. There has to be a payoff, something that makes it worthwhile. Maybe it’s a bizarre yet grotesque setting or a compelling monster or maybe a terrifying mystery. None that was the case here. The Slender Man had none of its original enigmatic subtlety. Instead it just snuck up behind people and then they were crazy or just plain gone. I will admit though, some of the Slender Man stalking scenes were truly great. I think the problem though, is that this movie was ALL grim. The tone never changed, there was no contrast. It started foreboding and terrible and ended the same, without a change or a break.
This must have been a hard film to write. Not just because Horror is the most unforgiving of the genres, but also because there was no real conflict. With the Slender Man, there were no rules, no pattern, no real way of escaping or fighting back. We just watched the gals get hunted until they met their ends. There was also no real ‘lesson’ here, except maybe Don’t Open Strange Videos From The Internet. You should know that one already – that’s the ‘Don’t get into a Stranger’s Van’ of Online Life. Bad writing didn’t actually stop the actors though – the cast was brilliant and gave it their all. I especially liked Joey King, who was likability came through even with this script.
So is Slender Man worth watching? Hell no. They could have done so much with this and instead we got this poorly paced slog-fest. They even tried to explain what Slender Man was (to some extent) but that didn’t help. At 1 hour and 33 minutes it still was too long. Sitting through this was actively stressful.