There are few moments in life as satisfying as sharing the experience of finding a hugely significant piece of work. It’s one of the main reasons I do these articles (that and keeping the Black Dog at bay), and here now I am honoured and humbled to introduce to you what may be the worst film I have ever seen.
SlenderMan, for the uninitiated, started life as a creepypasta (a short horror story posted on 4Chan or some other internet cesspit) in the early 2010s. It was a made up character that gained momentum and thus a subculture was born around Slendy. Video games, documentaries, even a 2014 case where a girl was stabbed repeatedly by her classmate in order to gain favour with the fictional horror.
After the popularity of the SlenderMan meme and the quality of some of the user-generated content on Slender forums, a movie adaptation was inevitable. Sure enough, nearly a decade after SlenderMania was at its peak, along comes this attempt to immortalise the tall pale one on the big screen.
Unfortunately for poor Slendy, the end product is Something Awful (see what I did there).
2018’s Slender Man tells the story – and I use that word extremely loosely – of four girls who one night decide to Google the meme, hence inadvertently summoning him to pursue them to insanity/the grave/whatever. There’s next to no set-up to the summoning happening; one character mentions the figure in passing and the next second there’s a video ripping off Ringu/The Ring filling the screen.
From there it’s pretty bog-standard teen horror; people get bumped off, jump-scares in lieu of any actual horror, etc, etc. The thing is, when you have a source material that has already inspired some genuinely unsettling material from internet amateurs, it’s completely unforgivable that a big studio can only come up with something as dull as this.
Slender Man is running on fumes from the start, not surprising since the source material has been stretched for content over nearly a decade. It’s painfully derivative, stealing wholesale from other movies and with no understanding of what made these elements work in the first place. I timed the aforementioned jump-scares while watching and it became almost embarrassingly like clockwork; there was no invention or creativity even when executing the cheapest of horror tropes.
Looking at director Sylvain White’s previous experience at helming horror movies, it won’t come as a great shock that the end product here was doomed to be awful – his past hits include direct-to-video slasher threequel I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer. That said, there’s so little here to suggest the guy has taken anything from those experiences that someone coming to this completely blind would assume that White had never even seen a horror movie, let alone directed one or two before.
The absolute worst thing though about Slender Man, besides being a boring, unoriginal, not scary ordeal of a movie, is that even its target audience don’t care about this. The screening I went to was practically full before the film started, and while I could count the walk-outs on one hand, I could see and hear plenty to show that the film was not capturing its demographic’s attention.
Slender Man isn’t the first film based on an online trend, nor will it be the last. The way things are going though, let’s hope that this trend dies out sharp-ish. Given that nobody listens to sense however, I’ll see you all in a few years when Charlie Charlie and Dear David the Movie inevitably pollute cinema screens around the world.