"Can You See Him?"
I came to the Slender Man movie with high expectations, based on nothing other then what I knew of the character’s folklore origins. But even that’s not exactly quite true, Slender Man is a fictional character created by internet forum user Eric Knudsen in a series of memes. Long story short, the character and his backstory was expanded upon by other web users, becoming a part, I guess of internet mythology. In a way, Knudsen used some of the same methods used to promote the first Blair Witch Project film by creating fake testimonies and documents “proving” his existence and these went viral, and were swallowed up by a gullible public and impressionable teenagers.
He is tall, skinny, as the name suggests, dressed in black, has no discernible face and preys on children and young people. There are photographs of him going back decades – but these are more the product of Photoshop than the supernatural. There isn’t actually a fictional canon to the mythology of this character, so he is whatever you want him to be and the mythology has been expanded upon over the years. The most infamous incident involving him happened in 2014, when the near fatal stabbing of a young girl by two of her friends was blamed by the perpetrators on his influence. Their defence was that they wanted to offer their friend as a sacrifice to appease Slender Man and become his proxies.
So, given the rich background of both fictional and actual events, and given that there’s no copyright on the character, it was inevitable that Hollywood studios would be interested in making a movie introducing this internet phenomenon as a legitimate horror character. It’s not hard to imagine him in a Freddy Krueger style franchise of films.
Whereas the question of taste would affect the film makers in any way with the attempted murder case from 2014 was never really a question at all, as taste has historically never been a factor in horror. Quite the opposite.
For the purposes of the film of course, the Slender Man is real and he is summoned ill advisedly by three teenaged high school girls. Their boyfriends were going to, but they backed out – so bored one evening, the girls do it via the internet and woe betide them. (Seriously, you get instructions on how to summon this supernatural entity by clicking on a link that reads “summon him” then they have to close their eyes and await the tolling of three bells.) Having attracted his attention, most of the film is then spent trying to fob him off with small sacrifices to try and get him to stop terrorising them, to no avail – he wants the ultimate sacrifice.
And basically, that’s the whole script right there. It has a nice twist ending, which raises my overall opinion of the disappointing film slightly, but other than that, it really doesn’t have much to recommend it. Sadly, most of the scares are cheap – and by that I mean sudden blasts of noise, which I absolutely hate being used repetitively. Also, it seems that these girls’ houses are lit entirely by bulbs that give out less light than a candle. On the plus side, the cinematography is excellent, and it’s a great looking film. There are some nasty scenes as the girls are psychologically tormented
The Slender Man himself is wisely kept out of sight, other than long shots and a sudden close up of his pasty white blank face. But credibility for the character kind of dissipated when having captured one of his victims he seems to turn into a tree. At least that’s what it looked like to me, giving the film its Evil dead moment, on top of the Candyman, Freddy Krueger and Urban Legend moments.
They could, I guess go for a sequel, but I’m hoping that if the Slender Man hits screens again, it’ll be in a better written, better thought out and better executed film. There’s so much scope for a genuinely creepy and disturbing film.
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