Let me start off by saying that, unlike many other cookie-cutter horror flicks aimed to teenagers, Slender Man got me intrigued ever since I watched the first trailer. Thus, going to a screening for this film I was both somewhat excited and extremely afraid it was going to blow, since it was later rated PG13 and critics brutally panned it.
Just to be clear, despite the real-life accident that happened a few years ago, this movie is based on the 2012 free-on-demand video game of the same name that takes inspiration from an internet meme. The so-called “Slander Man stabbing case” is only briefly hinted at, so no worries: this movie hasn’t been insensitive or anything towards the victim(s).
The story Slender Man (the movie) follows is as simple as it can get: four teenage girls try to prove that the Slender Man is just an urban legend but, by doing so, they summon it and now it’s after them.
I know what you’re thinking: “we’re about to get another review/rant in the light of Truth or Dare and Wish Upon, where Mr HorrorWorld&Reviews will trash this movie to pieces!” Well, sorry to disappoint you: although not great by a long shot, Slender Man is not as terrible as many reviews make it out to be.
For starters, unlike most of the PG13 Hollywood rubbish we get every year, the people behind Slender Man actually cared. The movie has an overall dreadful atmosphere and, speaking of technical features, it looks quite good: the camera-work is not as lazy as in most of these flicks, the cinematography (done by the guy behind Emelie, 2015) is outstanding in comparison to the horror standards in Hollywood.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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Above all, though, the movie manages to create some really creepy imagery, through montages of weird and unsettling stuff accompanied by eerie music. Sure, they seem copy pasted from The Ring (2003), but they genuinely work.
These images and moments would have been extremely impactful, if only they involved characters we gave a shit about. Unfortunately, Slender Man fails at having compelling protagonists, as the four girls are written so shallowly and superficially. The interaction and dialogue between them is honestly unbearable: they talk about the boys they like, they mention social media (because that’s what the target audience wants to hear, apparently), they’re mean to each other for no reason and so on.
Besides, the performances are, for the most part, awful: Annalise Basso (from Oculus, 2014) is the only decent one and, for some reason, she’s also the one who gets less time on screen. Look, I have nothing against Joey King: she’s probably a nice young lady and I hope she’ll have a bright future in cinema… but them she sucks in every horror movie she’s in. She was, by far, the worst actress in The Conjuring (2013), she was terrible in the equally atrocious Wish Upon (2017) and now she’s annoying as hell in Slender Man.
Other than characters (or lack thereof), Slender Man is insanely saturated with clichés and horror tropes. From this type of flicks, I came to expect a certain amount of jump-scares (here, a few were effective, most of them just fake and laughable), but all the other conventional sequences seem put in the movie just out of lazy writing. We get the obligatory ‘library scene’ (with fake jump-scare along), the generic ‘tripping while running scene’, the mandatory ‘oh, I’m alone in the house tonight’ part, and the list goes on.
It seems like, beyond the creepy images, this flick didn’t even try to set up good or original scares. How can I be invested in or even remotely entertained by something that we see in most conventional horror flicks since the late 90s?
There are two last things I need to mention before I wrap up this review.
First of all, the ending – which I’m not going to spoil – feels utterly rushed and devoid of any impact. I wouldn’t even have realised the movie ended, hadn’t it been for the end credits rolling on the screen!
Secondly, half of the footage featured in the trailer doesn’t appear in the movie! This is simply cheating on your audience: I will not downgrade Slender Man because of that, but you need to acknowledge this lack of respect towards the viewer.
Overall, Slender Man is a pretty bad film, with a few redeeming qualities that will most likely please fans of this type of filmmaking.
Slender Man 3.5/10