A group of teenage girls haphazardly summons a well-dressed, faceless entity which terrorizes them and the ones they love. For those not familiar with “Slender Man”, either from online stories or video games, he is a fictional character created in 2009 that steals children and has a tall, slender, faceless appearance. I first heard the name from the 2012 PC game, “ Slender: The Eight Pages”, which had the player wander around the woods in search of eight pieces of paper before Slender Man “got” you (which was represented by him just standing in front of you and the screen becoming filled with static). It was an extremely low budget game but the jump-scares did provide some entertainment. It was always fun getting someone new to play the game so you could see their reactions when Slender Man appeared. Since then, the fictional story and video game character has evolved into its own mythology, with some kids today actually believing he could be real. Spoiler alert: he’s not.
It’s been several years since Slender Man has been relevant, so it took me by surprise when I learned of the movie being made. What didn’t take me by surprise was how awful it was. There’s only so much you can do with a character that only appears for seconds at a time, and does the same thing each time he appears. I believe it would have been more fitting to instead create a movie based around internet horror stories and simply have Slender Man as a chapter, instead of his own movie. But hey, what do I know? I’m sure no one would want to watch that, right? I’m sure this movie will do well enough on its own at the box office. Let’s see, according to IMDb, the film had a budget of $10 million and grossed worldwide opening weekend $11.8 million. Congratulations, you barely broke even. But is breaking even worth the greater cost of disappointing your fan base? I don’t think it is.
I’ve seen my fair share of horror movies that center around teen girls and have come to expect a certain level of immaturity in those films, but this makes the girls out to be downright stupid. They make every horror movie mistake and do so with little to no prompting. A random stranger in a chat room said to go to the woods to summon Slender Man? Better do that. Voices calling from the woods in the middle of the night? Better wander off alone and follow them. Don’t take the blind fold off? Better take it off immediately. Slender Man chased me to my room but then it sounds like someone else? Better open the door and find out. The lack of character development in the girls resulted in bland characters who act predictably and moronically. I can’t blame this on the actors, because they actually did pretty well. Maybe the writing? It seemed like the whole thing needed more story. Otherwise, the entire movie plays out like someone took a 20 minute short and stretched it into 90 minutes without adding any depth.
Before we get into how the movie ends, let’s talk about how the craziness begins. During a sleepover, four teen girls decide to watch a video of disturbing imagery that summons an evil entity who tries to kill them. If that doesn’t sound enough like the plot to “The Ring”, then I’ll tell you another detail – the spirit waits 7 days to show up to kill them. Look, you already knew people were going to make comparisons between “The Ring” and video the girls watch, so WHY include the stipulation of Slender Man waiting a week before showing up? That’s more than on the nose; that’s on the whole face. I was also disappointed in how laughably easy it was for them to find the necessary information to summon Slender Man. You’d think that would take more than a five-minute internet search. After that, the movie turns into your standard, angst-filled teen horror drama, where no one “gets” the main characters so they are left to fight on their own. I’d call that plot derivative but at this point it’d be like beating a dead horse.
Ultimately, everyone who watched the video is killed or abducted (and presumably killed) by Slender Man. The finale, or climax, or whatever you want to call it, consisted of a brief scene in which the final living teenage girl runs into the woods with the intention of sacrificing herself to Slender Man. I guess she had a brief lapse in courage, because when he shows up to take her, she runs away. He ultimately captures the girl, but this ending doesn’t provide any real resolution other than to provide an ending to the story of these four girls. They didn’t impact anyone around them or Slender Man in any way. There was nothing of any significance about any of them. We didn’t learn anything new about Slender Man. There weren’t even any really scary scenes, apart from the disturbing imagery that appears briefly later on in the film, during a dream sequence, I think. If I had to compare this movie to a breakfast food, it would be plain oatmeal. When you have it on its own, it feels like it’s missing something.
This movie is…
Do yourself a favor and just play the PC game instead.
Cheers and goodnight.