Movies & TV

‘Slender Man’ review

'Slender Man' misses the mark on its meme, comes up skinny on scares

About midway through Slender Man, there’s a scene in which several of the film’s teenage protagonists huddle around a laptop while researching the titular, supernatural entity tormenting them. The camera focuses on the actors and the narrative exposition their conversation provides, but in the background, their shadows ever-so-subtly merge into the profile of Slender Man stretching up the wall and over the group.

It’s a neat trick, and unfortunately, it’s one of the very few memorable, authentically creepy moments to be found in the film.

Directed by Sylvain White (The Losers) from a script by David Birke (Elle), Slender Man is inspired by an internet meme that originated in 2009 involving a tall, faceless creature that preys on children. The subject of countless illustrations, photoshopped images, and fictional accounts of encounters with him, Slender Man gained mainstream notoriety in 2014 when several violent incidents were committed by children inspired by the meme.

Truth can be stranger — and often scarier — than fiction, and that holds particularly true with the Slender Man movie.

The film follows a group of teenage girls who, having heard of the online legend, decide that it would be great fun to summon Slender Man during a sleepover. Naturally, their poor sense of judgment when it comes to invoking supernatural horrors leads to wild nightmares, unexplained disappearances, and near-constant fear — with a dose of creeping insanity — for the teens, who have a troubling affinity for hanging out in dark forests after the sun goes down.

Slender: The Eight Pages and its sequel Slender: The Arrival became indie horror phenomenons after the games were released in 2012 and 2013, respectively. YouTube personalities shared their terrified reactions as they were repeatedly scared by the long-limbed, mysterious “Slender Man.” Now, the infamous monster is the focus of his own movie, Slender Man, and the film’s second trailer sheds some new light on the movie’s plot and main cast.

This trailer follows a group of teenagers as they attempt to unravel the mystery of a friend’s disappearance. The trailer gives us a better look at the titular monster, as well as a reference to the image that spawned him on the SomethingAwful forums.

The trailer starts off by giving us a closer look at our main characters and their lives before the horror of Slender Man. Opening with a Twitter poll and complaints about getting out of their “stupid town” might be a bit of a cliché, but it does a decent job of giving us some information about the main characters’ lives, interests, and frustrations. It also helps to showcase the group’s friendship which, if done well, could go a long way toward making us care about these characters and their fates.

From that point, we move on the disappearance of the character Katie and the town’s reaction. As is usually the case in these types of movies, the police assume the girl simply ran away from home. Her friends, however, aren’t convinced and eventually they stumble onto evidence of Katie’s obsession with Slenderman. This scene gives us the trope of an obsessive’s room covered in drawings and photos of the object of their obsession, in this case, Slender Man. Upon hacking into Katie’s computer, the group stumbles across a ritual meant to summon Slender Man, which they decide is how they’re going to rescue their friend.

At that point, the trailer kicks into high-gear, taking us on a quick jump through several classic horror tropes. We’ve got a scene set in what looks to be an asylum as well as a shot of the teens walking into the woods to summon Slender Man.

Overall, this trailer is a bit more focused on the central cast, whereas the first put more of an emphasis on selling us on the titular monster and the trauma it inflicts on its victims.

“Where is my daughter?” a man asks in the movie’s first trailer as police search through a forest with flashlights. “People don’t just disappear.”

Next, we see a girl walk past a crib mobile that has small dolls hung in nooses rather than the usual adorable animals we’d expect. As she approaches a wall, several drawings of the Slender Man and his victims can be seen. A few show him using his arms like Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man, and it appears the fear of the monster could be more dangerous than the monster himself.

The trailer shows children having nightmares and being forced into mental institutions, but it only offers a small glimpse of the Slender Man, who stands behind fog in a forest, much like he did in the original game. Without warning, he appears in front of a girl and extends his arm, which has several smaller tentacles growing off of it, before the camera cuts away. As the police arrive in a large field, we see a girl slowly approach, her mouth covered in a black liquid, and it’s unclear if she’s under his control.

The Slender Man creature is a relatively recent creation. It was cooked up by users on the forum Something Awful as part of a paranormal pictures contest, and it may have been inspired by the German “Der Großmann” monster first talked about in the 16th century. A pseudo-documentary that can be found on YouTube offers a look at some of these earlier images.

Slender Man hits theaters on August 10. It’s directed by Sylvain White, who previously worked on television series such as The Americans and Sleepy Hollow. He was also responsible for the 2006 horror film I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, as well as the independent film The Losers.

Article originally posted by digitaltrends.

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