Every person who follows tales of creepypastas on the internet has heard about Slenderman - a fictional supernatural creature that is depicted as a thin, unnaturally tall humanoid creatures with enlogated arms, legs, a featureless head, and a sharp black suit.
Slenderman is the epitome of mass media gone crazy. Originally created as a photoshop contest for the website Something Awful forums, the contest required entrants to turn ordinary photographs into creepy-looking images and then pass them off as authentic hauntings on paranormal forums. SA User Victor Surge (rea name Eric Knudson) posted two black and white photographs of unnamed children discussing Slenderman as a mysterious creature that stalked them. The fictional tale was so popular than many other internet users began expanding on the stories with other accounts and photographs of the Slenderman stalking, abducting and traumatizing people. 1
As the tales of Slenderman made their way into different narratives, the story came into the real world when on May 31, 2014, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, two 12 year old girls named Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser lured their friend Peyton Leutner into the woods and stabbed her 19 times in order to impress Slenderman, believeing him real. While Leutner recovered, Weier and Geyser were actually found not-guilty by reason of insanity and were confined to mental institutions. 2
Now, 4 years after the Slenderman stabbing, comes the highly-anticipated and chilling Slenderman movie, starring Javier Botet as Slenderman, and some fresh faces playing his victims, as terror strikes a small town as four teenage girls perform a ritual to debunk the lore of the horrifying figure recounted as Slenderman. But when one of their own goes missing, they begin to fear that the legend is true as they start to spiral into insanity.
I went and saw Slenderman when it recently came out at Hoyts Cinemas and it was exactly what I imagined it would be - a horror film for the younger Millennial and the teens of today - the one's I so lovingly rolled my eyes at in the aisle of the supermarket as we were buying snacks for the movie. It wasn't scary, and I was expecting much more spooky monumental horror movies than what was given.
The issue is that horror movies usually fall under two ideals: a mysterious entity, or something based in legend. a mysterious entity could be a crazed serial killer with strange motives, and something with a legend could be as diverse as the legend of Camp Crystal Lake or even classic Dracula tales. The problem with this movie is that Slenderman is neither. It's too recent for him to be considered a legend because everyone knows it was a photoshop competition (and they even use the original photos in the movie) and he wasn't mysterious for the same reason. So what was left was a lot of gaps and attempts at making a new The Ring style movie for the younger generation.
There are also a lot of loose ends in the movie that wasted space. It becomes suggested that another kid in the school watched the movie that summons Slenderman, but there was no follow up on him as to whether he had the same experience or was even seen again. One of the main four characters were left scarred and scared but there was no follow up as to what happened to her. You can assume she was begotten by the Slenderman, but leaving the characters on assumptions in the end rendered them useless plot points and an easy time waster. I'm pretty sure there was a deleted scene where these characters loose ends were tied up nicely because in the trailers it depicts the girl stabbing her eye out with a scalpel. This would have been a good use for the scene that was obviously being set up for something, and then used only as a time waster.
In saying all this, there were some good points. There is several scenes where Slenderman video calls the main girls on their phones and they watch a video as he travels through their houses, getting closer and closer to their door. This is legitimately terrifying and a great way to build the intensity of the haunting of Slenderman because it's more stalker-like than supernatural. If this happened to me I would be genuinely scared - but maybe it wouldn't happen to me because I wouldn't accept a video call from an unknown number.
The music in some of the scenes - especially in the woods - was also a standout for the movie. It was the classic intensity building score mixed with undertones of static and a few sounds I literally can't describe. It's very subtle (the friend I saw it with didn't even notice it) but it added to the horror aspect of the movie in a way that the Slenderman movie just didn't. See if you can spot it if you can.
Overall, Slenderman is... alright. It's not scary, it's not groundbreaking, and it's perfect for a night in with your younger friends from high school who will laugh and be idiots through the entire movie. But if you want something that can actually spook you, you might want to save your money from the movies and go see The Nun when it comes out in a few weeks.
Slenderman is playing in Australian cinemas from 23rd August