Review: 'Slender Man' Directed By Slyain White

As the worlds single most popular form of communication it was inevitable that the internet would generate its own library of urban legends and it didn’t take long for that to happen. In 2006 the term ‘Creepypasta’ was coined by users on 4chan to describe horror based legends and pictures circulated on the net. The most popular, and now notorious (but not because of the movie), of these is Slender Man. Described as an abnormally tall and thin faceless figure, usually wearing a black suit he is known to abduct and kill children. The character appears in countless fanfic type stories and people even took to photoshopping him into the background of seemingly normal pictures. Sadly, in 2014, two 12-year-old girls stabbed a friend of theirs 19 times in an attempt to impress the fictional Slender Man, that’s the story they gave at least. I give you this subject history so, if you were unaware, you could see the obvious potential for Hollywood to adapt this lore to a feature film. You have a visually striking figure with an open backstory just waiting to be expounded upon. This was a real chance for a studio to find a talented writer and morph this into the next big thing in horror, but that would have cost too much I guess…

Slender Man takes place in a small Massachusetts town and centers around a small group of friends. As teenagers are prone to do in these films, they decide to summon the Slender Man in an attempt to debunk the myth itself. They perform the ritual, which involves church bells and a knock off of the VHS from The Ring, nothing happens and they all go home….roll credits. Nope, as you probably guessed it isn’t long until one of the girls goes missing and the rest of the group must investigate the disappearance while avoiding the gangly poltergeist following them around. The thing that stings the most is that a true iconic movie monster is really hard to come by, since 2000 there’s really only been Samara from The Ring as far as a recurring widely known monster, you can also include Victor Crowley form Hatchet if you’re a horror fan. Even these do not have the pull of a Jason, Michael Myers, Freddy, Leatherface, or even Scream’s Ghostface. Done correctly, the Slender Man had the potential to join this group. His look, made terrifying by the absence of detail and distorted normalcy of a guy in a suit, holds the same quiet terror-inducing quality that made Michael Myers so special. The look is usually the hard part, finding something truly unique and captivating is not an easy venture, that’s why every time a look hits there are unending carbon copies. How many movies featured a gray slow-moving child after The Ring hit big? Yet that promising look is squandered on the most generic cheap thrills possible, with no depth and nothing to generate more interest. This seems to be a problem with any web-based horror entries, there is no interesting backstory. The cast, while fine, is as generic as any new CW show. In fact pretty much everything included in the film is as generic as it comes.

I will give credit where it’s due, the look of the film is great. Held up by the aforementioned qualities of the title character the movie makes great use of its visuals, using all of the set pieces to ramp up the anxious atmosphere. Director Sylvain White makes the most of what he has to work with and creates jump scares that hit almost every time. It’s something you expect in these movies, the camera pans left and no one’s there, it pans back right and BOOM monster…but somehow he manages to keep it surprising. White also manages to show some major restraint, making the impact of the film more about the anxiety of not knowing where Slender Man is rather then the fear of seeing him coming. As with the rest of the film, there are moments that shine with potential, like the suggestion that it’s all in their heads, but they’re short lived and dropped without resolution.

A real disappointment Slender Man leaves you wishing for so much more; even if you weren’t familiar with the character the movie does enough to make you realize they just didn’t try that hard. This hits even harder when one considers the controversy surrounding the “Slender Man Stabbing” I mentioned in the beginning of the review and the accusations that the film is capitalizing on that tragedy. Many things can be forgiven if the end product is up to snuff, it’s just too bad this one isn’t.

1.5 Out of 5