Slender Man Review: Big cash-grab, slender on scares
Based on the iconic internet horror character, Slender Man captures none of the odd and creepy aspects that many fans love and trades in fun and goofy horror for a way too serious tone.
The film follows a group of friends (Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair) as they are hanging out one night and suddenly decide to check out a website that allows users to summon an entity known only as Slender Man (Javier Botet).
Slender Man, an entity that either takes those that look for him, kills them, or makes them permanently insane, is often seen hiding in the shadows with a white, blank face and a slender body wearing a suit and tie. So when the group looks at a video online that supposedly summons him, they begin to see him all the time and start to begin to lose their grip on reality. Now, the group must work together in order to save a friend and escape from the Slender Man’s grasp.
Honestly, I’ve never really thought about this after seeing a movie, but Slender Man was clearly ruined by the film’s PG-13 rating as many of the “important” scenes from the trailer were cut out mostly likely due to it being “too violent.” The film completely lacks any sort of violent nature or body horror that many would expect to see with Slender Man. Because these scenes are taken out, the filmmakers also choose to not rewrite the script or re-shoot scenes and end up leaving plot threads hanging.
But these plot threads are already thin at the start as Slender Man really lacks any sort of real plot or character development to make it a worthwhile film. The film immediately goes into finding Slender Man and doesn’t give viewers any sort of insight into why they should care about these main characters. This leaves the characters to be dislikable tropes that are more annoying than anything and a plot that constantly breaks its own rules and has no real through line to it whatsoever. Not to mention, King and Telles feel as if they are both competing to be the lead role and neither ever really fit the mold.
Character chemistry also feels as if it is never there and there isn’t really anyone to root for. The film also never gives them much to fight against as Slender Man never feels like a truly intimidating fright. He has some moments to be the psychological threat that he is known to be, but ultimately never reaches anything unique.
His look also feel incredibly inconsistent at time as during the more practical moments with Botet’s performance feel eye-catching while other times when CGI is introduced it looks down-right terrible. Watching it I often felt like I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be Claymation or CGI, but either way it never looked good.
The biggest offense Slender Man brings to the big screen is a lack of imagination that makes the film take itself too seriously not have much fun. Slender Man is, at its core, a bit of a goofy looking character that is beloved because of his mysterious motives and origin. But the film doesn’t care to have a mystery to him as it continuously tries to stay too grounded and ruins any chance of letting audiences enjoy his mysterious and odd personality.
Honestly, Slender Man is a true disservice to the iconic character. It wastes all of its potential on unlikable protagonists, no plot, and a PG-13 rating that ruined its ability to make the film scary. It not scary or enjoyable; it’s just a clear and worthless cash grab.