As social media has become a larger and larger part of our lives, film makers have tried to incorporate this into the horror genre. Films have tried to tackle both the fears of the Dark Web and supernatural takes on social media usage. Unfriended and it’s sequel Unfriended: Dark Web actually go both routes. From cyber-bullying to ghosts…they are trying to make it work. So far, there have not really been any standouts. And the general fears of technology that dehumanizes us has been a common trope for Asian Horror for decades.
Slender Man takes the popular Creepy Pasta internet meme and sets him up as the big scary. A bunch of friends go online and perform a ritual to summon the Slender Man. After one of the girls disappears, they attempt to bring her back, back the ritual goes awry and the Slender Man keeps coming for the girls because he wants to drive them mad or send them to the bad place or something.
The film borrows from established lore (such as Slender Man taking people to his home and preferring the young) and also from other horror films (apparently it takes a week for the scary stuff to begin, similar to the Ring’s seven days and then you die). But even when it sets rules, it fails to stick to them. Later in the film, a character apparently goes to the magical website and is freaking out the next day.
None of the characters are that compelling, and we are never given any real deep indication of what drives our leads, so the stakes just do not feel that high. There are a few times where they give visual hints of the presence of Slender Man, but the film really fails to use this as well as it could.
The creepiness of Slender Man is found in him being seen from the corner of your eye, or off in the distance. If the film was going for a “is he real or not” you could maybe justify how little effort there seems to be to make his threat seem real. But the film makes it clear from the start he is a legit entity. As such, the film really would have benefited from playing with the viewers by inserting Slender Man into the background of scenes. Like when the girls are talking, you suddenly realize he is somewhere in the distance. Leave the audience unnerved.
Of course, as I noted the central problem here is that none of the characters have any personality, not even by the low standards of bad horror films. And honestly, I had to fight falling asleep with the film. It just does not do enough with hit’s subject matter to keep the viewer interested in or invested in the characters or possible thrills.