Directed by: Sylvain White
Written by: David Birke
Starring: Joey King, Julia Goldani-Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso, Javier Botet
Runtime: 93 min
In a small town in Massachusetts, a group of friends, fascinated by the internet lore of the Slender Man, attempt to prove that he doesn't actually exist... until one of them mysteriously goes missing.
You know when you have this hopeful feeling that a movie might surprise you? Naturally, my expectations were extremely low for this film, but my "affection" for the Slender Man character (I used to play the games where I would crap my pants quite often) somehow managed to insert some hope into my brain ... Oh, what did I get myself into?!
This is the worst movie of the year, so far. Without a shadow of a doubt, Sylvain White horribly directed what is supposed to be a horror flick. 2018 is actually being such a fantastic year for horror films (Hereditary, A Quiet Place, ...), but apparently, I am going to have the genre represented on both Top10 and Bottom10 of the year. So what went wrong?
Basically, everything. The only reason why this is not an F is due to the young actresses, who I genuinely think do a job good enough to deserve a bit of credit, especially Joey King as Wren. She goes through some nasty stuff and even if the visual effects are awful (I'll get there), she is able to make them less unbearable. Julia Goldani-Telles is also good as Hallie, but these two are the only ones trying to make this movie work.
I don't even know where to begin. I guess I'll start with the (alleged) scary scenes since it is definitely the aspect that annoyed me the most. There is an absurd lack of background lighting, the cinematography is appalling. I can barely see a single scene at night since it is so freaking dark. I can't be scared by a random girl screaming or by an increase in volume if I don't know what the hell is happening.
Sylvain does not show anything worthy of technical merit. Besides the shameful cinematography, the editing is incredibly choppy which does not help the running scenes (which are already filled with poorly handled shaky-cam). Every scary scene is a predictable and cliche jump scare, something that not even the lousy horror films of today are doing anymore, to be honest (they are just bad for other reasons). He also uses an excessive amount of close-ups on people's faces and bodies being deformed by some ugly visual effect that left the entire audience laughing out loud. Yes, it is that bad.
The score is a mere device to let people know that a jump scare is coming which completely ruins the element of surprise. Thankfully, the tone was consistent, at least they kept the horror vibe during the whole movie, even if they sometimes escaped and introduced some dumb high-school drama. David Birke gives zero characterization to the characters. They are just a bunch of high school girls getting scared and doing stupid stuff. There is barely a backstory or any development throughout the narrative.
Birke's screenplay is another major problem. It is a massive exposition festival! If the characters are not searching for something online, they are reading it on a book or watching a video. There is not a single shred of information that comes out clean with a minimum of effort to not be absurdly lazy. The mystery surrounding the Slender Man is evident from the very beginning, and Birke still exposed so many unnecessary details, which dragged the film, ultimately becoming a boring time at the theater.
Therefore, the pacing is profoundly affected. With such a short runtime, Slender Man is able to be astonishingly tedious. I yawned every five to ten minutes, while I was laughing at the horrific (not in a good way) scary moments and no, this is not one of those movies which "is so bad that you love it." It is tiresome, scare-less and so annoying that it is impossible to fall into that category.
I can't grant any entertainment value to this film. Even if you enjoy this sort of horror flicks, I can't guarantee your money will be well spent. Even if you love cheesy and predictable jump scares, these ones are too weak. Even if you get scared easily, this movie is annoying as hell. I don't think I will ever allow someone to watch this on my watch, and I will never watch this film again. I left the theater perturbated and it was not for the "right reasons."
Slender Man is probably the worst movie of the year, so far. Don't watch it, at all. I am sorry to Joey King because she does not deserve to be in such a mediocre film. Horrendous cinematography, choppy editing, the horror heavily relies on silly jump scares and on hilarious close-ups, and the screenplay is a lazy exposition party. Compared to other horror movies of 2018, this one looks like a Disney fairytale. That says it all.