Slender Man, theoretically, could have been a great horror movie. The national news story known as the “Slender Man Stabbing” that gave this movie its inspiration has a lot of great horror movie elements. Fear of the unknown, teens in peril, a largely unseen villain that can take advantage of horror movie tropes like shadows, light, and enclosed spaces. So why is Slender Man such a terrible movie?
A group of teenage friends decide to summon the internet urban legend Slender Man when they’re bored one night. Slender Man is known to capture children and presumably kill them. Even those who survive aren’t safe. He leaves those who escape with their lives scarred for life. This group of friends begins to notice weird things going on shortly after they summon Slender Man, and of course, things only begin to get worse from there.
There is no reason to root for any character here. Each of the main four is the generic scared girl horror movie cliché you’ve seen a hundred times before. You spend the majority of this film’s runtime (which feels much longer than its pale 93 minutes) waiting for the next one to be knocked off and the whole experience takes too long. Julia Goldani Telles, in particular, is terrible, playing each scene and each line reading with absolutely no emotion or any charisma whatsoever. And Joey King, lead in last year’s failed horror Wish Upon as well as Netflix’s mystifyingly popular The Kissing Booth, again fails to impress.
But these young actresses very well might just be doing their best with what’s on the page. The script by David Birke is pedestrian in every way imaginable and embraces exhausted horror clichés. It relies completely on the jump scare, and I didn’t jump once. Due to some really terrible editing, this film has lots of unintentional laughs. This film doesn’t even try to do anything interesting with atmosphere or tone. For a beat in the film’s first ten minutes, you get the idea that this film might be at least attempting to do a few interesting cinematography things, but nothing comes of it as a result.
It also needs to be mentioned that this film is a blatant rip-off of The Ring. Teens watch a famed smash-cut video that is said to have horrific properties associated with it. Teens act surprised when bad stuff begins to happen. This is an exact copy of The Ring and I would be surprised if a copyright infringement lawsuit is not pending.
Slender Man’s worst crime, however, is that it’s atrociously boring. There’s not a minute of this that works, and every jump scare is seen a mile away. Every CGI effect is horribly done, and there isn’t even any creepy imagery. It’s not even in ‘so-bad-it’s-good.’ There’s not anything I can say about Slender Man that makes it worthy of a recommendation in any possible way. Even the parts that weren’t ripping off The Ring couldn’t have been more derivative and uninvolving. There is a fascinating story around the Slender Man legend that could have made a much better horror movie. This movie ignores that entirely.
Slender-Man boldly goes against the well-known belief that horror movies should be scary. An early Razzies front-runner, Slender Man is sure to be one of the absolute worst films of 2018.