Slender Man

That the movie demonstrates — however vaguely — the dangers that lurk in the internet is actually good material to amplify

Sylvain White 
Lead Cast: 
Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso 
David Birke 
Bradley J. Fischer, James Vanderbilt, William Sherak, Robyn Meisinger, Sarah Snow, James Vanderbilt 
Jake York 
Musical Directors: 
Ramin Djawadi, Brandon Campbell 
Luca Del Puppo 
Columbia Pictures

Massachusetts, USA 
Running Time: 
1 hr 33 mins

Technical assessment: 2.0 ★★✩✩✩
Moral assessment:
2.0 ★★✩✩✩
CINEMA rating:
MTRCB rating: PG

There’s an internet lore about a lanky creature without a face called Slender Man who snuffs the life out of young people. It’s pure fiction, just a meme turned overly-subscribed online urban legend. Or is it? Because high school friends Wren, Hallie, Chloe, and Katie (Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, and Annalise Basso) suffer brutal paranormal experiences after summoning Slender Man through an online video. Katie disappears. Chloe becomes rabid. Only Wren and Hallie are left to rescue their friends. But they, too, cannot escape the mad mayhem of Slender Man.

The movie is a head-scratcher, especially to those who don’t know about this internet myth that started in a real-life web forum in 2009. It does not help that the makers of the movie did not care to incubate a character for Slender Man and instead relied solely on what is found online. As it is, we have to guess why he claims lives. Sure, the girls read aloud from blogs and books about who he is, but that’s a rather dull way of portraying a character. With the cracks in its plot notwithstanding, the movie manages to scare, and believe it or not, it does so with a plain but ominous crackling sound that is more like a falling tree rather than a high voltage power line. Yes, voltage, because Slender Man it turns out is a bioelectric force.

The movie’s subplot of friendship cannot be missed. Wren gives, she cares, she helps, and risks her life for her friends. Hallie is the protective sibling who gave up her life to rescue her young sister Lizzie from Slender Man. But save for Hallie’s family, there’s an absence of parent-child relationship that is so pivotal in times of crisis. In fact, despite all the horrors they were going through, not one among the girls sought the help of adults. One can argue that the digital world has caused such a chasm in family life. But perhaps it is nearer the truth that we have allowed technology to eclipse in-person interaction, and along with that, family relations. That the movie demonstrates — however vaguely — the dangers that lurk in the internet and how they influence behavior is actually good material to amplify. Slender Man the movie after all stems from a real-life stabbing of a girl by two of her friends who said they did it to honor Slender Man (the two have since been committed to a mental institution). But those lessons are muddled and all that sticks as we step out of the theater is Slender Man’s high voltage crackling sound. — MOE

For more details on the scoring system, see Review Guidelines: How CINEMA does its work.