He gets inside your head like a virus. Can you see him?
The stories surrounding Slender Man have been around for nearly a decade, yet he is more alive and thriving now than ever before. What started out as a creepypasta meme has turned into a worldwide phenomenon with the dreaded character appearing in various stories, video games, short films and he was even blamed in a near fatal stabbing case back in 2014. So to say that Slender Man hasn't taken a life of its own is denying the fact that he continues to live on through various forms of media, and this past weekend director Sylvain White and writer David Birke brought new life to Slender Man as he invaded box offices and brought his empty face into hometowns across the country.
A group of four teenage girl friends learn about the urban legend of Slender Man - a thin, unnaturally tall man in a black suit with long arms and a featureless head and face - from a group of guys in their high school, and they decide to attempt to summon the legend later that night, because why wouldn't they?! They watch the freaky video and follows its mundane instructions of keeping your eyes closed as a tolling bell rings out. A week later, one of their friends disappears suddenly, another appears zombie-like, and another is driven to the point of pure insanity by the Slender Man, to the point where she considers jumping off her roof. Things get pretty real over the coarse of two weeks, as the group of friends begin to abandon each other, and one of the main characters tries to unravel the true secrets about the dreaded faceless being.
Truthfully, the story in Slender Man isn't the worst story we've been told in modern horror cinema - regardless of what a lot of other big name review sites say. What is important to understand about the story is that it falls perfectly in line with the lore behind Slender man that has been compiled over the last decade: it is about a group of friends to stupidly summon the urban legend and now must face the consequences. The story of the film the creators actually got right; it was a good basis for the movie and its characters to play off of. My issue with the film was the feeling that the story was rushed, and it was because of this rushing that made it feel not realistic. For example, the first girl to disappear from the group is Katie - a young redhead who was strolling behind her tour group in a cemetery. After her disappearance, there was a very brief showing of her friends actually being affected by her being missing; sure, they hung posters but then that was pretty much it, you don't really hear about her the rest of the movie. The movie never settles her story; to be fair, they do mention that Slender Man can take you away (with his freakishly long arms) to his realm where you are his forever, but what would have really been sick was if the creators took you to his realm through Katie's eyes, where you can see all the horrors she was surely enduring for the rest of eternity. That's the freaky shit many people who saw the trailer was expecting to see, which is why some have labeled the movie as misleading. The same sort of circumstances go for Chloe, who is seemingly brainless and in a haze after she sees Slender Man out in the woods: she essentially gets locked up in her house and besides the other two girls (Hallie and Wren) stopping over once to check up on her, her story just kinda ends there. I get it, though - Katie and Chloe are not the true main characters of the film, Hallie and Wren are - but it still would have been sick to see what was going on in their heads the same way you do with Hallie later on in the film. While all of this certainly doesn't completely ruin the movie, it does feel just a little lacking.
Slender Man definitely doesn't deserve all the negative comments its been getting though - overall, I honestly enjoyed the film. I feel like there is a very niche crowd in the horror genre who will like this movie as much as I did, because besides a few jump scares the film relies heavily on CGI and freaky editing to really get a rise from the viewer. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of screen time that Slender Man got, because I was honestly worried it was going to be one of those movies where you see the creature for mere seconds, as the director hopes to play on the mystery rather than the actual creature. You no doubt get to see plenty of horrifying Slender Man appearances, so that alone was worth the money for me to go see it. Besides that, there was only a few scenes where the acting was a little cheesy but the main girls - Joey King (Wren), Julia Goldani Telles (Hallie), Jaz Sinclair (Chloe) and Annalise Basso (Katie) - were total bad asses throughout the film, and while you probably won't make a personal connection with any of them, their screen time was enjoyable and each girl played off each other really well: they felt like an actual group of girl friends.
Slender Man actually proved to be better than I thought it was going to be. While the plot and scares don't offer anything groundbreaking that will shake the horror genre for years to come or even to make this one of the top horror flicks of the year, if you take it as a light-hearted, quick scare movie (I mean, it's based off a meme for christ's sake), I think you'll enjoy it a lot more than if you go into it thinking it's going to be the next Exorcist or Blair Witch. If anything, you'll enjoy the freaky editing and Slender Man's appearances on screen, which like I said, was worth it for me, but maybe that's just me!
Now to scavenge the internet to find that summoning video...