Slender Man tells the story of a tall, thin horrifying figure with unnaturally long arms and a featureless face, who is reputed to be responsible for the haunting and disappearance of countless children and teens.
When Sony Pictures first dropped the news that it would be making a horror film based on the online legend of the Slender Man, fans of the original creepypasta story were excited. Others, however, saw the movie as a tasteless attempt to cash in on the Slender Man-related Wisconsin attempted murder detailed in last year’s HBO documentary, Beware the Slenderman. (The film is, in fact, banned in Wisconsin where the crimes took place.) Whichever camp you’re personally a part of, if you’re a fan of horror movies, the chances are pretty good that you’re at least curious about the Slender Man movie.
The film is directed by Sylvain White (I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, Stomp the Yard) and stars Joey King (The Conjuring, Wish Upon), Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, and Annalise Basso. The plotline follows what happens to a group of young female friends that decide to summon the Slender Man after overhearing a group of classmates say they were going to do the same. When one of the girls mysteriously disappears soon afterward, the others decide to contact Slender Man again in an effort to get their friend back. Madness and disturbing visions, as well as horrors aplenty, ensue as the willowy, mysterious specter continues to haunt the girls and threaten their sanity.
Slender Man is arguably one of the most highly anticipated wide-release horror movies of the summer but, although entertaining enough if you’re into the genre, it is certainly not without its flaws. To begin with, the film revolves around the misadventures of four young female friends that somehow are almost completely unfamiliar with the legend of the Slender Man. (The original lore was born on a web forum in 2009 as a response to a call for eerie photoshopped images. A user known as “Victor Surge” contributed the two images of Slender Man that would eventually give rise to the legend.)
The film also doesn’t do much to explain the runaway popularity and enduring mythos of the Slender Man story – a missed opportunity in the eyes of many who saw the film when it opened on August 10th. There are pacing issues with Slender Man as well, making the film feels as if it crawls at times through the sequence of events that make up the movie’s plot. Those hoping for a film along the lines of The Blair Witch Project or Ringu may leave the theater frustrated for that reason. (Those that are hoping to relive the terror and eeriness of the original Slender Man legend almost surely will be left a little cold.)
As far as bright points to the movie, the very talented young actresses that play the girls haunted by the Slender Man are wonderful, although the film doesn’t give them much opportunity to show what they can truly do. The film also delivers its share of truly creepy moments, although we really would have liked to see more of those and less of the parts that dragged on far too long.
Anyone that’s ever been anxious about not reposting an online chain letter or felt a chill run down their spine after reading an especially disturbing creepypasta may well feel a touch of the familiar in Slender Man. However, there’s something about the popular online story that doesn’t quite translate into big screen horror to the extent most movie goers hoped that it would. Slender Man doesn’t quite have the range or the scope to be what it truly wants to be – a chilling summer hit with “future classic” written all over it. Its villain is really much more menacing as an online legend to be sure.
So should you spend your money checking Slender Man out in the theaters this summer? You wouldn’t necessarily be wasting your time so long as you don’t go into it expecting too much. It’s not scary enough to keep you up at night or leave you thinking about it long after you go home. However, there are enough chills and thrills to make the film fun to watch in the company of some good friends, especially if you were ever into the Slender Man legend and are truly dying to see another take on it.