Saturday, March 2, 2013

Movie Review—The Slender Man

I've mentioned the Slender Man before on this blog; he was monster #2 on the Monster Day articles, after all. Not only is it a really creepy story, but I'm endlessly fascinated by the fact that this whole thing was, essentially, an entire and rather complex mythology created entirely online by all sorts of different people, resulting in something realistic enough to fool others into believing it's real. Very impressive.

So, when I was looking around over at Bloody Disgusting (one of my favorite horror-themed websites), and saw an article about a Slender Man movie being free to view on the internets, I immediately relocated from my home office to my couch, fired up You Tube on my TiVo, and after a bit of frustration finding the right movie (it's tough searching for long titles when you have to spell them with a TiVo remote!)... I was watching a movie that 3 minutes earlier I didn't know existed. Technology, for the win!

"The Slender Man" is a true child of the internet. Not only is the movie based on something created on the internet and distributed on the internet... it was FUNDED on the internet over at Kickstarter. I totally missed it... otherwise I would have certainly kicked in some cash, but they made their goal and made a pretty fun movie as a result. The fact that you can make a movie like this is pretty exciting as well, needless to say.

Now, all that said... how is the movie itself?

Really quite good! Several of the scenes were so thick with tension that I was afraid to blink, for fear of missing something—the Slender Man myths are all about barely catching glimpses of the faceless, tentacled, suit-wearing child-abducting monster, after all.

The movie is not a true found-footage film—while it's filmed in that style, with all of the on-screen footage being from in-movie cameras that are in most scenes being carried by the actors, it has some musical cues and doesn't involve a "this footage was found" element to it at all. It's a subtle difference, but it absolutely works.

The idea that the Slender Man can only be seen through video footage or photographs or works of art is also fascinating and super creepy. The movie isn't content to just scare us with the threat of Slender Sightings, though. The plot follows three different people:

1) A young woman who's father just passed away. While she and her brother sorting out his estate, she finds a huge amount of files on her father's computer—collections of articles about kidnapped children and a file called "Slender Man," clues that send the two out to try to determine what it was their father was researching.

2) A detective hired to track down a missing child many years ago who became involved in the Slender Man's machinations peripherially, and who is now involved in a fresh spate of missing children cases that have a disturbingly similar theme.

3) A father who's child goes missing in the first scene of the movie, a really chilling long shot of the two playing catch with a ball. The ball rolls into the woods at the edge of the yard, the kid goes into the woods to find it... and doesn't come back.

It's a low budget film, but it's really effective and quite well done. Some of the scenes drag on for a bit too long, and one scene in particular has some really unpleasant sound work on someone screaming that could have been handled a bit by some post sound work to make it less painful on the ears. But the tension that builds as the footage shot by the three primary characters starts to slowly weave together as their involvement with the Slender Man inexorably draws them into each other's fates is VERY well done. And while the Slender Man himself doesn't show up often... when he does, it's always effective. The first shot of him (which is done with, alas, some pretty dodgy CGI work—the rest of the shots with him aren't quite as ambitious and are all done quite well with costumes and make-up that's enhanced by CGI and video distortion), is shocking... but the last is one of the scariest things I've seen in a movie in a while!

The Slender Man...
  • ... has a satisfying conclusion to the movie, but then adds a coda that completely blew me away with how well done and how disturbing it was. Yikes!
  • ... doesn't even have an IMDB page yet!
  • ... isn't alone out there; there's quite a few other Slender Man movies on the way, including at least one with the same name that DOES have an IMDB page.
  • ... made all its money via Kickstarter, and the movie's creators have simply unleashed it onto the internet for anyone to watch. Not only that... they're encouraging folks to spread the word and repost the movie. Which is a refreshing bit of non-corporate, non-greedy modern thinking.
  • ... works best if you watch it with a sound system that includes a sub-woofer, since like Paranormal Activity and Jaws, the approach of the horror is broadcast by low, ominous tones.
  • ... has not a trailer below... but the ENTIRE MOVIE! Although you really should watch it on a big TV with the lights out and the sub-woofer and all that.
Grade: A–


  1. on a scale of 1-50, how scary is it? is there a lot or some jump scares? or ANY jump scares?
    -- Miki

  2. There's a pretty good mix of scares—the majority of the scares are jump scares, but VERY well done ones. There's also a pretty constant feeling of mounting dread the whole time as well.

    On a scale of 1-50, with 1 being not scary at all and 50 being so scary I couldn't finish it and just thinking about it makes me shudder, I'd put this at about a 38.