Thursday, 30 August 2018

Review: Slender Man

Slender Man
Cert: 15 / 93 mins / Dir. Sylvain White / Trailer

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a woman looking confused in a poorly lit hospital corridor must be in the supernatural hallucination sequence of a horror movie...

To smalltown America now*1, as four teenagers enjoy a sleepover during which they inadvertently summon the hood-faced, suit-wearing, child-abducting demon known all over the internet (by the cool kids, anyway) as The Slender Man. Cue the rural backwaters shot in heavy focus with desaturated colour palettes and lots of slow dolly-zoom shots as characters stare wordlessly into a forest, soundtracked by the creaking of branches and reverb-laden dialogue callbacks. Even the scenes set in the daytime cast little light into the auditorium*2. You get the picture.

Besides, one of our doomed characters writes in a library book, so deserves everything that's coming to them, frankly.

In the olden days, it would be a mysterious old book or a ouija board used to summon the servants of Hell. These days, it's a laptop. The tech might move forward, but the tropes don't. Speaking of hardware, credit where it's due - Slender Man features nowhere near the industrial amounts of branded product placement we've come to expect from Sony movies. Although there is still some, obviously.

With visual effects ranging from passable to laughable, the full reveal of the eponymous villain is teased out slowly enough, the filmmakers perhaps aware that a third-act backstory read out from a library is the only card they have to play in this game. A textbook tale of adolescents meddling with things they don't understand, surrounded by adults who don't believe them anyway. There's little subtext here other than 'know your place and don't go poking around in the occult'.

The young central cast give spirited performances of a screenplay which runs like it's on rails. Without giving too much away, it quickly becomes apparent that the pair who are doing All The Acting will clearly be the ones still around for the shrieking finale. It's earnestly and enthusiastically acted, but feels a bit like Mozart playing Chopsticks. IE, it doesn't matter how good he is...

Slender Man is technically solid enough for what it is, but in 2018 what it is is very ordinary. My screening had a couple of walk-outs at around the hour mark, but I was unable to tell if this was from heightened outrage or abject boredom. While I can't bring myself to condemn the efficient execution of some seriously low cinematic ambitions, I certainly can't applaud them either...

And stick around until the end of the credits for a stinger which teases the crossover team-up of Slender Man, Hollow Man, Candyman and The Woman In Black!*3

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
This is in equal parts The Ring, It, The Blair Witch Project and Friend Request.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
It's not.

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
Stream it, tops.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
It's not.

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
That's entirely likely.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Joey King's in this, and she was in Wish I Was Here alongside Josh 'Controller Droid in Rebels' Gad.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Albeit via London Enfield, the only Cineworld remotely near me which happened to be showing this movie during daylight hours. [ BACK ]

*2 Which is the bane of that annoying guy in the row in front of you, trying to take notes by the light of the screen and basically having to angle his notebook so that everyone in the room can see it. By which I mean me. Obviously. [ BACK ]

*3 No, not really. Actually, maybe really, I didn't hang around that long to be honest. [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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