A group of friends curiously test the internet legend of Slender Man. It’s a common slumber party activity amongst kids, with the likes of Ouija boards and Bloody Mary—and Slender Man is no different. Though they soon will find that this myth is more real than they ever could have imagined. Based on the creepypasta creation from 2009, Slender Man aims to bring the sinister character to the big screen, but it painfully disappoints.
During a sleepover, Wren (Joey King) and her friends Hallie(Julia Golden Telles), Chloe (Jaz Sinclair), and Katie, decide to summon the Slender Man after hearing their school crushes plan to do the same. After finding a video online which claims to call to him, the girls follow along. When it’s over they laugh it off, though it seems to have disturbed them all.
After a week, Katie (Annalise Basso) disappears on a school field trip. As days pass without any leads, her friends begin to dig deeper into her disappearance. They soon find that Katie was diving more into the myth of Slender Man. When they begin to experience nightmares and hallucinations, they try to search for ways to get their friend back. All the while trying to escape Slender Man’s grasp on them.
After its creation by Eric Knudsen for a photoshop contest, the Slender Man story took off, having many adding their own content to the tale. It’s a creative concept with a terrifying villain, and so easily had what it takes to be an original horror franchise for years to come. However, the makers of this film seemed to lack the ability to fully take off with it. And it’s frustrating.
The original tale is simple. Slender Man takes children and they are never to be seen again. So the opportunity to develop a unique and terrifying larger plot is vastly open. What ends up happening in this film is a poorly thought-out explanation for the character, that makes no sense given what we are shown. There is no real development with his story and pieces are thrown together to patch up a film full of inconsistency.
What’s more frustrating is the character of Slender Man is terrifying. So terrifying that simply a photo on the internet inspired fear among many. So it’s amazing to watch this film fail to bring even a minute of terror or suspense to the screen. There are no scares, no tension, and virtually nothing creepy at any point. It’s full of poorly cut clips and static, seemingly inspired by The Ring, as its only way to jolt the audience… but it fails.
As for the titular character himself, forget about him. He perhaps has a total screen time of about 30-seconds, limited to mostly shadows or distant appearances. He is so poorly used throughout the film, being diluted into some sort of bio-electric being to explain his ability. Character actor Javier Botet is so underused in this movie given his terrifying work in the past. His brief appearances as The Crooked Man in The Conjuring 2, were more interesting and scarier than the whole of this film.
The few moments of tension rely on the devices characters are using. Whether that’s a laptop, cell phone, or music player—and he seems to only know how to truly terrify the girls by use of FaceTime. Even the way to summon him is on the internet. Yet they lead us to believe he’s been around for centuries, when these technologies didn’t even exist. It’s a poor attempt to connect to the digital age, which just isn’t necessary.
There is no consistency in the story and absolutely no thoughtfulness in this movie whatsoever. So many opportunities for quality scares, yet it seems the filmmakers had no idea what to do with its villain. It’s disheartening to see such an iconic internet character be dwindled down to a useless piece in a very boring horror film.
Slender Man is in theaters now.