In the history of horror villains, few have had names as decidedly un-scary as Slender Man. Nevertheless, people tend to be frightened by anomalies of human anatomy, such as a freakishly tall man or a man with no face, which is precisely who Slender Man is.
In the film, four teenage girls decide to summon this mythical creature at a sleepover by watching a video off the dark web. They are instructed to close their eyes and listen to a bell chime three times, the last time signaling that Slender Man has been invited into their minds.
Soon after, one of the girls, Katie, disappears in the woods while the other three begin to experience hallucinations. Another of the girls, Hallie, begins to chat online with someone who claims to know how to get Katie back from Slender Man by sacrificing possessions that they care about. The girls partake in these strange rituals as their hallucinations worsen, and those around them are put in imminent danger.
Throughout the film, it is unclear as to what Slender Man does exactly. He is said to take some individuals, namely children and the innocent, with him to an undisclosed dimension while simply making everyone else who sees his faceless visage permanently insane. He is likened to the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, who during the Middle Ages used music to lure the children of a town away to certain death in a cave or river.
Still, the plot is flimsy at best, and full of seemingly random scenes such as one in which Hallie dreams she is pregnant with a tentacled creature bursting out of her belly. In another, Hallie goes over to her crush, Tom’s house and the two get quite cozy on the sofa before his face begins to wildly contort and laugh in maniacal insanity.
It was at this moment that I lost it and began laughing at the utter cheesiness of it all. Even more amusing is that I saw the movie in a theater of at least thirty high school-aged kids who, based on their reactions, thought it was genuinely scary.
Although I did not find Slender Man particularly scary or even interesting, I could appreciate the Lovecraftian horror angle of faceless, tentacled creatures and unspeakable madness that the filmmakers were clearly aiming for. I was also surprised to find that the character of Slender Man was not entirely computer-generated but rather an actor (Javier Botet) who stands at six foot six inches tall and has appeared in countless horror films.
The film may additionally be based in part on a real-life incident in which two pre-teen girls conspired to stab their friend in order to appease the fictional character. The idea of Slender Man had been conceived years prior to the film’s release, in a horror story-writing contest. If anything, this movie shows the suggestibility of young people in the age of social media.