REVIEW: Slender Man

August 24, 2018

Director: Sylvain White
Screenplay: David Birke
Starring: Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso, Javier Botet
Runtime: 93 Minutes

 

★☆☆☆☆

 

There's a not undeserved amount of stigma that has been generated around the release of Slender Man. Standing as not only the first major studio production to be based on an infamous "Creepy Pasta" (horror-related urban myths generated by blog and comment posts or images that have been copied and pasted throughout the Internet), in many ways the Slender Man myth is one of the original contemporary urban tales - all be it with no real substantial message or concept to allow it to linger beyond vaguely unsettling visuals, and the tired story of a tall, black-suited faceless spectre who haunts the woods and steals children.

 

That's probably the biggest weakness of this whole endeavour; the Slender Man just isn't that interesting, or even that unique of a creature, to warrant any kind of screen treatment that wouldn't just exemplify the emptiness of it all. So working an exhausted narrative whereby a group of young teens summon him via a haunted Internet video (which was never a part of his thin mythos to begin with, and only exists as a means to display many of the ancient online videos and faked images online) is nothing surprising or original in approach.

 

The waning popularity in the by now stale figure itself doesn't help, but what's worse is the tragic circumstance to which the Internet sensation now owes much of his mainstream infamy. Since it's release follows on from the Slender Man stabbing incident in Waukesha County, Wisconsin in 2014.

 

The film failed to receive a major release in the area, but Sony clearly panicked in the point between shooting last year and its current release. All but abandoning a marketing campaign, dumping two trailers online to little fanfare all after desperately trying to shop it around to other studies for release.

 

What also came out is that production company Screen Gems mandated a PG-13 MPAA rating for release, so what's come out is a chopped up nothing of a horror movie with very few scares, continuity and structural issues, rushed characterisation and little to none of the more violent flare spied in the first trailer - leaving the antagonist somehow even more of a cypher.

 

Of the moderately okay that there is in this snore fest are two of the less ting performances in the female cast, that being young contemporary scream queen Joey King and Julia Goldani Telles. They're both decent enough even though they have very little to work with, and there's a sibilance of an emotional core here that might have worked had the editing job not made mincemeat of its structure. 

 

Director Sylvain White is fighting to make sense of most of it, with overly dark but occasionally handsome cinematography that's unable to hide the seams of its budget. One can only wonder just how much of post-production he was actually around for.

 

Slender Man a violation against the senses, but the fact that it’s been cut to short as to not offend or effect anyone hasn’t done it any favours toward making it memorable. It’s an empty, depressingly inert nothing of a horror film.

 

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