Slender Man is 93 minutes of almost nothing. It feels weird to describe a film in this manner, but it is completely true in this case. Based on the try-hard modern urban legend known as Slender Man, the film is both boring and poorly executed. Despite being classified as a horror movie, it is not scary, suspenseful or coherent. Director Sylvain White and writer David Birke may have hoped that the folklore of the legend that is Slender Man was intriguing enough to carry a film, but it isn’t. As such, it just feels like they mailed it in, and Slender Man can only be described as a disappointment.
The film takes place in a small town in Massachusetts and follows four girls who become curious about the legend of Slender Man. When the girls find out that their boyfriends are going to summon the mysterious creature, they try to do the same thing. Wren (Joey King), Hallie (Julia Goldani Telles), Chloe (Jaz Sinclair) and Katie (Annalise Basso) come across a Slender Man conjuring video relatively easily after only a few clicks on the web and complete their own summoning ceremony. One week later, however, things start to get weird for the quartet. Specifically, while on a class field trip to the local graveyard (what?), Katie goes missing. This disappearance is particularly odd because Katie had been walking with the class the entire time. Confused and scared, the girls determine that only one thing could have happened: Slender Man has kidnapped Katie.
Equal parts incoherent and laughable, the real horror here is the screenplay, which constructs a story that just isn’t very good. Characters are never fleshed out, or even acknowledged. The legend of Slender Man is never really explained, except for a few snippets of how he likes to capture children.
Early on in the movie, the three remaining friends go into the woods to give Slender Man an offering. Each girl must give up something that they truly love in order to get their friend back. Wren proceeds to make a sly comment towards Hallie, after she tosses in a picture of her deceased grandmother. “I’m surprised you didn’t bring your precious medals and trophies,” Wren says. This would be fine, however there is never any mention of Hallie’s medals and trophies before or after this scene to give it context. The audience knows nothing more than the fact that Hallie runs track, but she is never portrayed as a “win at all cost” personality. This is just a small example of a film filled with so many missing puzzle pieces that it never has a chance to make sense.
The direction doesn’t help move anything along either, as White focuses on scaring the audience with slow buildups on an almost pitch-black dark screen. There is never a truly scary moment, and Slender Man doesn’t even feature the two or three usual “jump scares” that most horror films are known for. White made the interesting choice to make the setting so unbelievably dark that you can almost see nothing on screen for 50% of the film.
In all, Slender Man unfortunately comes across as a lazy entry into the bloated genre of horror films. Put simply, this movie lacks redeemable qualities, and horror fans and movie buffs won’t miss anything if they choose to pass on it.
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