Setting aside the tastelessness of centring a teenage horror film around an internet meme primarily associated with a real-life teenager-on-teenager stabbing, (as explored in the 2016 documentary Beware The Slenderman), this highly derivative would-be franchise-starter fails to distinguish itself in any significant way.
The fictional Slender Man film follows four sassy teenage girlfriends who dare themselves into watching a creepy internet video that supposedly brings forth the titular spectre, a tall, faceless figure with the silhouette of a man-sized matchstick. According to the lore of the film, if you see him, you're a goner.
After one of the girls goes missing, the other three begin to suspect their Friday night lark may have drastic implications for them all.
From The Ring-evoking, generically creepy internet video onwards, a strong sense of boredom-inducing familiarity permeates Slender Man despite its best efforts to texture the central characters' friendships and infuse relevance via a clumsy emphasis on social media and cellphone culture.
The main set-pieces have the girls being individually tormented by horrific visions comprised of cheap-looking CGI, buffered by a bevy of ineffective jump scares. Although the colour palette on display here was no doubt employed to emphasise a shadowy atmosphere, the film is underlit to the point of obfuscation.
Within the boundless anonymity of the internet, the 2D Slender Man character carries some undeniably creepy weight. But he doesn't benefit at all from being brought to tangible life, from the grab-bag mythology applied to him here through to his inelegant motion. The more we see him, the more he moves, the less scary he is. Go back to the internet, Slender Man, you're scarier there.
Julia Goldani Telles, Joey King
M (Offensive language and horror)