Slender Man

Out of tiny acorns do mighty oaks grow, but not every acorn is destined to flourish so, even in the deep and sinister forests of Massachusetts where the Slender Man is summoned by Katie, Chloe, Hallie and Wren, four small-town high school girls in a basement who feel that whatever the boys in class do they can do too.

“Once you see him you’re his,” they tell each other, “and the ones he leaves behind are messed up forever.” And so, with the collective wisdom of four teenagers at a slumber party they go on the Internet and summon a demonic force which will change their lives forever.

Directed by The Losers‘ Sylvain White from a script by 13 Sins‘ David Birke inspired by a character created for an Internet challenge by “Victor Surge,” Slender Man is slim on originality and a coherent plot, a cobbled-together patchwork mythology aimed at an audience with no critical faculties whatsoever, displaying credulity to whatever they view online and willing to take advice and instructions from strangers met in chatrooms.

White having grown up in France before his relocation, posed as a cautionary tale told by an outsider who can observe the pressures and expectations of American high school culture Slender Man could have been more interesting, and certainly there is just cause, the events of the film set four years to the day after the fictional character inspired two Wisconsin schoolgirls to stab their classmate in the summer of 2014 in order to appease him.

Instead, having no more substance than a campfire ghost story told by a child, Slender Man aims to generate atmosphere and tension simply by pretending it has already done so, the characters immediately and wholly buying into what they have read online with no framework built to establish their belief with the paying audience expected to do the same when they have been given no reason to do so.

With no effort to establish the characters beyond fodder for endless generic jump scares in the dark, Oculus‘ Annalise Basso, The Conjuring‘s Joey King, Jaz Sinclair, Julia Goldani Telles and Taylor Richardson as Hallie’s younger sister perform valiantly but the material is deeply substandard, able only to convey a dramatic depth equivalent to Twilight.

More interesting are the dysfunctional parents, blaming each other’s children for what has happened to their own then sidelined in the narrative before they can caution their offspring to take care, be home before dark and not to summon demonic entities or the police can issue a curfew despite a child having gone missing in unexplained circumstances.

What slim pickings Slender Man does have to offer are solely in the visuals, the flickering video by which the entity finds new victims recalling Ringu, reality segueing into drifting dream sequences drawn from the first Nightmare on Elm Street and the frantic camerawork of Evil Dead, but with the flimsy premise underdeveloped it is woefully inadequate to nourish a feature film.

Slender Man is currently on general release



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