I think the time for Slender Man to become a modern horror icon has passed. He had his period after 2009 where he rose to popularity as a genuine boogey man so authentic people still believe there’s a basis of truth behind his creation. I think with horror moving at such a fast pace, we likely won’t see a good Slender Man movie at all. Which is a shame, because Slender Man could be fodder for how horror and technology has evolved, but now he’s just a fourth tier movie monster behind Jigsaw and Bughuul from “Sinister.”
“Slender Man” follows four troubled high school girlfriends who after hearing of the legend of Slender Man, visit a website where they summon him (with the help of an online video that plays like a rip off of the cursed video we saw in “The Ring”). When friend Katie goes missing after viewing the video, the friends suspect her alcoholic father may have played a role. But they soon realize they’re being terrorized by something that has the key to where she disappeared. Syvlain White’s horror thriller watches like a movie that was heavily re-edited. It feels a lot like a movie meant to be more psychological and cerebral, but thanks to all the heavy controversy involving the Slender Man crimes, it was re-cut and watered down.
Deep down beats the heart of a great horror movie, but it’s lost in cheap jump scares, bad CGI, and heavy cribbing from “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Ring.” To his credit, director Sylvain White stages some neat sequences that might have fared better in a superior horror film. One scene I quite enjoyed where one of the characters is walking through a hospital corridor as everyone is moving in synch and in slow motion. The cast is also pretty solid, and they’re wasted, including Joey King. I hope she fires her agent soon, because when she’s put in a good movie, she can give a great performance. “Slender Man” could have been so much better than a simple series of scenes meant to shock or scare us.
It could have aspired toward more psychological ideas in the realm of “Session 9” where themes about evil preying on the miserable could have been tinkered with, as well as blurring the line of what we’re seeing being either the supernatural or something more grounded in mental illness. There could have been commentary about the things we tell ourselves to endure the pain of reality. There could have been overtones about abuse and grief, and how sometimes we can rationalize violence by convincing ourselves we’re committing to something better. However, at the end of the day, “Slender Man” is rendered as a fairly monotonous and dull as day old bread horror thriller about girls being haunted and terrorized by the internet meme sensation from eight years ago. Slender Man is now reduced to being a boogey man for the cinematic equivalent of a horror novella suited for thirteen year olds.