Slenderman Review: A bland mess

Nick Solomon

The urban legend of Slender Man sends shivers down the spines of its fans, but did the 2018 movie adaptation have the same effect?

Directed by Sylvain White, “Slender Man” is a so called “horror” movie with the titular villain coming from user Eric Knudsen’s Creepypasta post on a forum called “Something Awful.” The site is filled with urban legends and creepy tales for fans of suspense and horror. The legend of Slender Man (also spelled “Slenderman”) has been the site’s greatest hit for years. Slender Man originated as a creepy figure added to photos of playing children and the internet soon exploded with various renditions of an origin story. White’s film is the first mainstream version of a story surrounding Slender Man, however, it failed to deliver on many levels.

The first thing to criticize is the dialogue. This film has the most groan-inducing dialogue I have heard in years. Because the protagonists are in high school,  there is a fair amount of ‘cringeyness’, but this dialogue is so terrible it is insulting. “Slenderman” goes out of its way to annoy its audience with how awful the dialogue is. Every line just feels so forced. Normally, I can tell if a good actor is given horrible dialogue to work with, but I really wasn’t sure this time. The dialogue suffered a lot, but the characters came across as very bland so actor quality may have been a factor also. 

The plot itself is just like the rest of the movie, horrid. While I can see that the film is geared toward middle schoolers, that is no excuse for how insulting to a viewer’s intelligence it is. This film’s story defies all logic even more than a typical horror movie. I couldn’t even laugh at how bad it was, I just cringed and groaned. Plus, this film never felt like it had a climax, it just trudges along from beginning to end while remaining incredibly nonsensical the entire time. 

The horror of aspect of the movie also leaves much to be desired. I usually look for movies that have hair-raising suspense and terror. This film doesn’t have any of that. There was not one moment where this movie scared me or unnerved me. There are a couple moments where the volume spikes for a jump scare, but it was just really annoying and cheap when it happened. The special effects, when used, are also incredibly awful. When coupled with headache-inducing camera shots, it really does nothing but take away from the film. Slenderman himself has no imposing presence, like Michael Myers in “Scream,” he is just nothing. There is only one specific scene with Chloe (Julia Goldani Telles) that was a bit gruesome, but besides that, just pure bland-ness. There is also the use of tired film tropes: this film copies from Sam Raimi’s classic fast camera following and David Lynch’s anxiety inducing audio.

The soundtrack, composed by Ramin Djawadi and Brandon Campbell, is perhaps the only good thing about this movie. These composers deserved a better movie, as it could’ve been in a better, much more serious film of actual merit. Djawadi has had a great track record coming from “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld,” and this film should have met his composition skills. Itself alone could establish a dark and gloomy atmosphere, but you never get pulled into that because of the rest of the film. 

The film really isn’t even worth the price of admission. The only enjoyment I took out of it was talking about how bad it was after with my sibling, and the whole concept actually makes you question if a “Slender Man” movie could ever be good. The Slender Man fad has been gone for years, and coupled with the related stabbing of a young girl in 2014, this movie was a terrible idea. Both insensitive and dumb, it is an hour and a half of my time that I am never getting back.