By Fergus McGillivray (Los Angeles)
In 2009, the prospect of a Slender Man film was excitingly terrifying. The well-dressed king of creepypasta had recently begun his reign, spawning multimedia attention including memes, video game appearances, and a fantastic web series (Marble Hornets). Young people (including myself) took turns attempting to get through Slender: The Eight Pages before static distortion filled the computer screen, the faceless, child-snatching entity offered its tentacled embrace, and someone finally turned the lights back on. This shit was scary, and as horror fans we wholeheartedly immersed ourselves in fanfiction and online lore.
The YouTube show, Marble Hornets, was good – too good – leading to sky-high (or at least roughly 8-foot high) expectations for Slender Man’s inevitable appearance on the big screen. Astonishingly, considering his popularity, the appearance never came, and Slender Man slid back into the shadows of the internet. Following the 2014 tragedy involving three young girls and an attempted human sacrifice in his name, Slender Man’s chances of a horror movie deal seemed to dissipate entirely.
Nearly a decade later, in the wake of Blumhouse’s mastery of the low-budget, opening-weekend targeting, trash-horror formula (Insidious, Paranormal Activity, The Purge, etc.), Sony has attempted to tiptoe into the market by bringing Slendy out of retirement in an eponymous film. Is it too late? Probably. Is this movie a complete waste of 90 minutes? Just about. Director Sylvain White (Stomp the Yard, The Losers) would have been better off attempting to ritual-summon Slender Man himself and calling it found-footage than churning out this frustratingly-dull PG-13 cash grab.
Here’s the tall and skinny on Slender Man: During a sleepover, four high school girls decide to invite the titular fiend into their lives with help from a mysterious instructional video. It works. One by one, they fall victim to stupidity and unconvincing CG tentacles.
Even the cheapest jump-scares would have been a welcome addition to Slender Man, if only to fill the 20-minute gaps of nothingness following the few brief appearances of the demon. In theory, it makes sense for a Slender Man film to be Jaws-style, slow-burn horror, thriving on tension and dread. Slender Man is just dull and empty; it is essentially a mishmash of google image results, devoid of any passion or effort to create and explore a conceivably rich mythology behind the character.
Part of the reason Slender Man is scary lies in the simplicity of the concept. A tall, thin, faceless being that appears around children opens endless doors to creative and horrifying elaboration. Slender Man’s Slender Man is interchangeable with almost any evil entity from any story. Correction: he might be the first demon to video chat with his victims. At least Sony is in touch with the youth and their darn technology.
Why it took a decade for Slender Man to hit the big screen is a bit of a mystery, and Sony’s contender for worst of the year will most likely set the property back several more years. The good news is that Slender Man’s potential is far from exhausted. In that sense, Sony did us a favor by making their film anything but unique.
Katie: Okay. Twitter poll. If you could stay one age forever, what would it be?
Hallie: What about the age we are right now?
Katie: Sometimes I wish we could just get out of this stupid town together.