Let me start with some real-world background: in 2014, an American kid stabbed a classmate in the woods after reportedly being inspired by Slender Man, a meme that came from a Photoshop contest in 2009. Earlier this year, Sony released a trailer for their Slender Man horror movie and the father of the attacker called them out for “popularising a tragedy.” Having seen the film, I can tell you that he needn’t have worried.
Don’t worry, the film isn’t based on the real-life tragedy. I mean yes, it’s about a group of girls. And they do become obsessed with Slender Man. And they are lured into the woods. But no one gets stabbed. Nor do much of anything. They simply summon Slender Man (black suit, awful CGI, no face), he stalks them for a bit, I get bored and try to work out where I’ve seen that terrible actor before (Wish Upon), and then it ends.
I couldn’t even find a picture for this review because the only available images are from the trailer and none of that’s in the actual film, and I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that anything actually happens in this movie. I’m not even sure it’s a movie. I don’t know what it is. It’s not a vegetable, because that would involve some hint of life. My current theory is that it’s an old bit of gravel, or maybe a pair of shoes.
It’s been suggested that these scenes were cut in order to distance the film from the real incident or to obtain a teen-friendly PG-13 rating, because nothing gets the teenagers in like a slow, depressing, bloodless husk of a movie. Not that they’d be able to watch any violence anyway, considering the cinematography is so dark that you can’t see any of the nothing that’s happening on screen.
Not only does the film appear to have been placed in a blender, man, it also suffers from a laughably bad script by David Birke, who wrote the screenplay for Paul Verhoeven’s critically-acclaimed Elle; a film whose dialogue I originally assumed was stylised but now realise was probably just bad. Every scene here consists of monotonous exposition, as though we need people to keep explaining what’s going on when there’s literally nothing going on.
And then it just sort of ends, leaving you with all these questions: What was that? How did such a blatant Buffy rip-off win this competition in the first place? And why did Sony think a Slender Man movie would be a good idea? Not least because his notoriety peaked back in 2014, or 1814 depending on how gullible you are. If you do have to watch a movie based on a meme, maybe go with Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. At least that one has April Ludgate.
If we can find some light in this impenetrable darkness, other than one scene featuring Maggot Brain by Funkadelic and another a Fishbone t-shirt, it’s that there’s a strange moral to come from this whole sorry affair: Sony tried to cash-in on a tragedy and ended up pissing everyone off and killing a franchise before it even began. It just goes to show, when you lose faith in Slender Man, you lose face entirely.