Director: Sylvain White
Cast: Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair
Studio: Mythology Entertainment
The digital pastiche that spawned Slender Man on the forums of Something Awful has led to ubiquity.
Slender Man is a blend of Freddy Krueger, Pennywise and a Lovecraftian abomination, with its tendrils and maddening featureless face.
Although he is a mere fiction, his presence has been enough to send two 12-year-old girls into a murderous rage. I’m referencing the Waukesha, Wisc. incident that saw the tweens stab their classmate 19 times, all in the name of this vacant visage.
Thankfully their victim survived, much like the terror associated with Slender Man.
There have been a few films that have captured this insidious creation, including 2015’s He’s Always Watching: A Marble Hornet’s Story, but when Slender Man broke the fourth wall of his digital cell and moved into the psyches of modern Americans, Sylvain White’s adaptation of the myth was born.
Unfortunately, in an effort to make the film PG-13, obviously a studio decree to get more bums in chairs, a lot of the story from the film is weighed down and never buoyed by a phantasmal creation.
That scene in the trailer where the young girl jams a scalpel into her eye? Cut. The young girl walking out into the field with black stains trailing down her lower lips? Not in the movie.
What is in the film is a quartet of teenage girls who fall into the trope of conjuring up something they shouldn’t have. Hallie (Julia Goldani Telles), Wren (Joey King), Chloe (Jaz Sinclair) and Katie (Annalisa Basso) are then in an unspoken flight.
The ginger-haired Katie, who has a troubled life with an alcoholic single father, which isn’t really fleshed out, is the first to disappear.
Her plight is implied and occurs while on a class trip to a cemetery. All the students are left behind, and even though they say they miss their friend, the emotion seems hollow.
Some of the visuals from the film dangle into other horror movie usage. The library scene with Wren seems to channel the scene from the rebooted It, and the woods, albeit respectfully used for the theme of isolation, parallel The Witch.
Leaving too much on the cutting room floor did nothing to smooth out the plot. And the M.O. for the Slender Man changes from victim to victim.
But, in fairness, Wren, looks up the Slender Man’s story in the library, as well as online, and uncovers the variety of states his victims are left in. The irony is she uses a tenuous scientific theory, even though her home is adorned in religious iconography. This religion versus pseudo-science theme needed to be explored more.
That came out of left field, as well as the “Make America Great Again” signs on the side of her attic stairwell. Still, how far the girl(s) will go to get back their missing friend, Katie, is part of the adventure.
And much like Hallie worrying about track practice, Chloe’s character falls off the storyline like a failed tightrope walker. We’re led to believe she lost her grip on reality, but nothing more is said.
Finally, a twist to the plot arises and our suspected final girl attempts to save the last victim who was pulled in by the one friend who desperately wanted Katie back.
Hallie’s sister, Lizzie, closes out the film, narrating about how viruses spread, and how Slender Man plays on the said virus.
If they bring this villain back for another film, it most certainly is a direct-to-video number, or in these times, direct-to-streaming.
It doesn’t bode well for a character that had so much more promise for the big screen.