Let’s face it — no one expected “Slender Man” to be a good movie. From the get-go, the film was slated to be played at mediocre movie parties where the guests can easily ignore the thick of the plot. I can easily see myself walking past the TV in 10 years, catching a glimpse of the monster’s puppet head and wondering aloud why we couldn’t just put on “Silent Hill.”
“Slender Man” tried to cash in on a fad far too late. It’s likely you heard the name somewhere in the murky depths of your past. Slenderman was once a big deal, and a lot of people were excited about the idea of a movie being made about him. Now there are two, and they both missed the window within which they could have thrived. Slenderman was born on the internet and is weathering his death throes on the big screen. The creepypasta king was never meant to survive the wider world.
So, a little background: Slenderman was created on a forum in 2009 and proceeded to capture the imagination of the internet with widely-circulated indie projects popping up telling their own stories about the creature. Perhaps you played “Slender” or watched too much of “Marble Hornets” with your mom like a certain special someone.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the nitty gritty. The characters were stupid teenagers and the intended audience was likely stupid teenagers. They watched a video they were told not to watch. I don’t need to name names, but we were all dared to watch some rough material in middle school. These teenagers were too stupid to relate to. "Don’t mess with the occult just in case it’s real" is like, the stupid teenager golden rule. Witchcraft and witchery is mainstream enough to be safe, but you’d be hard-pressed to find students willing to mess with a ouija board.
So our protagonists, who we know are in high school because the film abruptly starts with the ringing of a bell, have watched this frightening video and started looking into this particularly slim fellow. They have a little scare, a nightmare, then go their separate ways. One of our girls then disappears about 10 minutes into the movie in true zero-to-100 fashion. Interesting approach, but that’s fine.
Five, maybe 10 minutes later we’re embarking on final rescue territory. I can’t make this up. At the urging of a stranger on an internet forum, the girls journey into the dark woods to sacrifice something dear to them to Slenderman in return for dear Katie, the fallen friend. You can watch “Slender Man” to see how all that goes, but I can tell you right now there’s over an hour of movie after this. It involves Chloe, the sole black character, who disappears from the narrative altogether after giving the audience one of the few creepy moments of the movie.
The film takes the easy route when it comes to creeping out the audience. Stuff that gives you chills if you think too hard about it in broad daylight. They come in the form of hallucinations, mostly, and are more unsettling than Slenderman himself. He’s definitely freaky, but he’s absolutely too much of a joke now. I couldn’t take him seriously until his final form, a common trope in video games. Dark Beast Ganon who?
The narrative isn’t incredibly strong. We never find out what Slenderman wants, and it’s hard to care about these teens who shouldn’t have been messing with this stuff in the first place and whom we don’t know anything about. I was more concerned about figuring out where I recognized a certain actress from than whether her character lived or died.
Saying more about “Slender Man” would be a waste of pixels, a waste of ink. No one cares about Slenderman, and you can’t build a mythos that’s literally just his desire to have one. What even is that? Hello? At the end of the day, I’ve listened to creepier Coldplay songs. Give this one a pass.