- Gareth Crook
Slender Man (2018)
I’m expecting this to be rubbish. I quite fancied it when I first heard about it and saw a few stills, but reports are not good. We’re in small suburban ‘get me out of this town’ America... again. These things are always set in exactly the same place aren’t they. This one see’s us join a group of 4 high school girls. They’re bored. At a sleepover the subject of Slender Man comes up. An internet lore about a tall bloke with long arms that takes children to another place. The film’s source is a muddy story, born via the internet in the early naughties. A narrative comprising different directions and ideas from a multitude of creators, no one really taking ownership. A creature designed by committee. This fundamentally is the problem with Slender Man now brought to the cinema screen. The girls watch a video on how to summon him, it’s predictably spooky graphic nonsense. Some chiming bells, pagan symbols etc. Nothing happens... or does it. Wren (Joey King) is having nightmares and Katie (Annalise Basso) is oddly drawn to creaking trees in graveyards. Then Katie goes missing. It’s all fairly standard stuff, largely at night, where figures are hidden in the shadows. Forests with tall trees and flashlights. Eerie music and nocturnal wildlife. Teenage occult dabblings. There’s too much instant belief in the myth from the three remaining girls for this to have any bite, but I guess you have to except the tropes and hope for the best. It’s biggest problem is it’s reliance on jump scares, not to mention lack of substance. It’s a nice simple short story at best, that even at 90 minutes feels like it’s struggling to hold any interest. I’m fine with a silly suspense thriller. I don’t need gore, amazing FX, not this has those, but I need a solid story and a plot that’s engaging. This essentially is a bit of dull preamble, followed by a flatline hour of the three girls being stalked by Slender Man whilst they try to retrieve Katie from his clutches. One by one they’re picked off, there’s no ebb and flow it’s just a slow creep or plod toward the end. I’ll admit I do like the Slender Man design, he’s a simple and elegant monster, but aesthetics alone cannot carry a film. The reports were right.