Friday, 7 September 2018



Poking its head into UK cinemas very briefly, before the abyss of DVD and a pretty thoroughly deserved obscurity, comes this mildly contentious and entirely unremarkable teen horror that does absolutely nothing interesting with its supernatural bogeyman figure or its central quartet of young, pretty idiots. A few impressive shots and effects don't distinguish it from the pack, leaving it lagging behind such fare as the Ouija films, Truth Or Dare, Wish Upon, The Drownsman, Friend Request and scores more. Some of those movies were decent enough but Slender Man gets just about everything wrong and the end result is a mess.

The titular Slender Man is a demonic figure of folklore summoned by a group of halfwits by watching a spooky online video. One of the group disappears into this air on a school field trip, another is rendered catatonic after a disastrous attempt at a ritual to get her back; while her friends manage to make contact with a chatroom character who proves to be of no real help. Is there any way to defeat the Slender Man and restore their comrades?

It might have helped if we were actually getting the complete film: at least two death scenes have been dropped completely, possibly because of legal cases surrounding a genuine attempted killing supposedly linked to the Slender Man (even though it's known that the character is an openly Photoshopped fiction invented on an online forum and has no basis in the real world). As it is, the ending if the final release version feels rushed, tacking on a sudden voiceover that suggests it's covering up a lot of footage that got scrapped. What's left is a bland, nonsensical and murkily shot horror movie with gaping holes in it, in which everyone wanders stupidly around in the dark without turning the lights on for no reason beyond the belief that it's scarier, and which has to resort to sudden Boo! moments because there's nothing else it can do.

Despite having another of Javier Botet's weird (and by now over-familiar) monster performances on display, the character doesn't work because his rules of engagement seem vague and variable and it's not clear what he wants or what he can and cannot do to achieve it. Sure, the Boo! jump scares work, but it's a lazy, uninteresting technique: former Environment Secretary John Selwyn Gummer could elicit precisely the same response if he leapt out of your wardrobe in front of you without any warning. Nonsense, and not even trashily entertaining nonsense either.


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