Slender Man (2018)

Slender Man (2018) poster.jpgDirector: Sylvain White
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Starring: Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso, Taylor Richardson, Alex Fitzalan, Kevin Chapman, Javier Botet, Jessica Blank, Michael Reilly Burke

Discordant bells. Foggy woods. A shadowed figure visible in the distance, stalking its prey. Put in the hands of the right director, these elements can make for quite the haunting time, leaving viewers on edge throughout the running time. Unfortunately, Sylvain White is directing things, leaving as much tension as an episode of Spongebob Squarepants.

In a small town in Massachusetts, a group of friends are fascinated by the lore of Slender Man, and attempt a ritual to summon him. When one of their group mysteriously vanishes, they start to believe it may be linked to the mysterious figure.

A supernatural creature who originated online at the centre of creepypasta tales (think Campfire stories for the internet age), Slender Man is a featureless figure clad in a suit. The intention is to be hidden in plain sight, lurking in the background and stalking through the shadows, but a figure that one can never truly escape from. An It Follows style approach appears to be the best approach, lending some nuance to the proceedings which would be rewarded upon repeat viewings. Instead, his every appearance is extremely signposted, to the point there may as well be a flashing sign accompanying the creature, displaying the words "HE'S OVER HERE!". But such an accompaniment would be helpful, as the scenes can often be too dark to make out whatever is supposed to be on the screen.

How is this (supposedly) frightening figure summoned? Through a cursed video which can be found thanks to a quick Google search. This lessens any mystique and terror, as this isn't a hidden nightmare unfortunately passed along between those foolish enough to give it a view. It can easily be found by any Chimp that can hit the correct keys, and is a subsequent result of David Birke's ridiculous script.

The cast may be trying their best with the material, but they can only achieve so much when they're left so under-served in the first place. What little characterisation is on show isn't even consistent. Take Chloe, for example. A character who initially voices her concerns against viewing the creepy video, and comes off as the voice of reason from the early moments. This leaves it all the more baffling when she makes some downright idiotic choices, to say the least.

There's also a tendency for plot threads to be entirely dropped, leaving fates about characters we've followed to either occur off-screen, or just be left unresolved. Whether this issue lies with the editing or the script, one is unsure, but whatever the case, it severely impacts the final product, and begs the question of why not just thin out the cast instead.

We then come to the biggest question which lies for any new horror release, are there any scares to be found within? It's true this criteria is subjective and dependant on the individual person, but you'd be hard pressed to find much within here. The attempts to be creepy miss the mark by miles, and are vastly hindered by the regular inclusion of thuddingly obvious effects work. If you thought the distorted faces in Truth or Dare were utterly laughable, prepare to split your sides when you see what's in store here. It's a shame because, in the hands of the right director, this could've been Ringu for the internet generation. Instead, it's just Rings for 2018

Slender Man is a cinematic piece of thudding incompetence, that proves as scary as a box of Cornflakes. One hopes studio interference played a part, just so Sylvain White isn't as hopeless a director as this makes him look. A truly moronic & frustrating experience.

0.5 stars photo 0.5stars.jpg