Thoughts on “Slender Man”

So, even I had heard of this urban legend or myth or whatever it was, and so when I saw the movie for a reasonable price I pretty much thought that I had to give it a try.  As usual for the things I actually look forward to, though, it wasn’t very good.

The big issue was the same as, well, most of the flawed horror movies that I’ve been watching, which is that it for some reason has decided that it doesn’t really need to have a plot in order to scare people.  This isn’t necessarily wrong, but the problem is that if you are going to try for that you really, really need to build a movie that doesn’t rely on having a plot and consistent characters to work.  If you don’t want to explain what’s happening, you really don’t want to put parts in the movie that get us thinking about what’s happening and why.  And too many of the movies I’ve watched recently have tended to try to be more serious and so rely on a plot but haven’t bothered to put in the work to build a plot that explains things and makes sense.

The basic idea is that a group of girls get together for a night of drinking and doing very little, and hear beforehand that a group of guys that they sometimes kinda date it seems are going to try to summon Slender Man.  So they decide that it would be a good idea for them to try it, too.  They actually succeed in doing so, and then one of their friends — sadly the one who was the most sympathetic and who also seemed to be the one who knew the most about and was the most in tune with the supernatural, which would have made her a better lead — disappears, seemingly called away by Slender Man.  They read online that they might be able to bring them back if they give up something valuable to them, so they go out to the forest and sacrifice personal items of great sentimental value.  You aren’t supposed to look during this ritual, but one of them panics and does so, so it fails.  They keep disappearing, and one of the friends drags the other friend’s sister into it in a second attempt to bring the friends back, which also fails and puts the sister in danger, so after the two of them argue about betrayals and not helping to stop the events the lead — whose sister was dragged into it — eventually finds out that the original ritual was a lie and couldn’t have worked.  She then decides to sacrifice herself to save her sister, which works for some reason.

The problem is that the first ritual seemed both reasonable and interesting.  Slender Man wanting them to sacrifice things they love is so much more interesting than just wanting them themselves.  And it’s an interesting twist for it to fail because one of them did it wrong, because then they are forced to try to find another way even though they’ve already given up the things they valued most.  It also brings a bit of tragedy to the failure, as those things clearly meant a lot to them and so to have it fail as it did can make us feel for them.  The later reveal that the ritual could never have worked ruins all of that and immediately makes us wonder why they were told that it could work in the first place.  It turns out, from what I could glean from the movie, that the source was lying to them … but why was the source lying to them?  What good did it do the source?  And it was presented as if it was a lie, not as if it was simply a bit of mistaken Internet legend.  And since from what I recall the source was actually someone seemingly on the side of the Slender Man the lies are even more inexplicable.  Did the source do this on their own?  If so, why?  Or did they do it at the behest of Slender Man?  But then why did Slender Man want it?  And if that ritual was a lie, what reason did she have for thinking that Slender Man would accept her sacrifice to save her sister?  And, heck, why did Slender Man accept it?  The movie is based on a mysterious supernatural enemy, but the plot relies on us at some point understanding what it’s doing, which really doesn’t work.

The movie could have survived if the characters had been interesting and compelling, but they weren’t.  The most interesting character disappears early on in the movie, and the others mostly snipe at each other as they try to save themselves.  So, no compelling plot, no compelling horror villain, no compelling characters, and limited scares.  There’s really not much there to redeem this movie.

I won’t be watching this one again.

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One Response to “Thoughts on “Slender Man””

  1. Bob Seidensticker’s Silver Bullets: 25 | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] that I hadn’t when I was browsing around on the weekend and noticed that the latest post was my latest horror movie commentary, and since they come out on Thursdays that means that I missed a Friday post.  Which is the first […]

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