Maybe it’s with good reason that there are a number of contributing factors to the poor reception of the upcoming horror film Slender Man, based on a character from an internet Creepypasta.
1) It’s incredibly dated:
Slender Man’s infamous creation on the Something Awful forums by user Victor Surge occurred in 2009, almost a decade ago now.
After the ‘Marble Hornets’ videos were subsequently released, Slender Man accelerated in popularity, achieving worldwide attention for the following three or four years.
2) The medium is the message:
Whilst the character himself doesn’t match the complexity of popular characters from other horror franchises like Freddy Kreuger, Jigsaw, or Chucky for example, Slender Man had a unique means of distribution; it was the first time a character had been contributed to, by multiple authors on the new mixed medium of the internet, making it something more than found footage, because it purported to be genuine.
Cinema actually represents an anticlimax of medium for this character, even more so given that…
3) The story is marred by controversy:
The Slender mythology dropped in popularity after the character inspired twelve year old girls Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser to lure Payton Leutner into the woods and stab her 19 times in Waukesha County, Wisconsin.
The father of Anissa Weier has recently protested against the film’s 2018 release calling it ‘distasteful’.
Of course, horror franchises being blamed for murders by the perpetrators is nothing new.
Even so, this event certainly does back up the problematic nature of the ‘transmedia’ method of internet storytelling, and its potential dangers.
By returning to the stable medium of cinema, in many ways, is playing it safe for Slender Man – safety being something that doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with effective horror.
All this aside, looking at the trailer, the imagery of cemeteries, creepy forests, body horror and the type of jump scares we have come to expect from modern horror – doesn’t scream newness – however this movie may not be as terrible as so far anticipated.
Flogging a popular character in multiple sequels is a staple in the horror genre, from Frankenstein to Jason Voorhees, and Slender Man may yet have his day where he comes to truly terrify on the big screen.
Director Sylvain White, whose background is primarily in television may yet surprise us, but I’m personally not holding my breath for this one.
Watch the trailer and let us know your thoughts in the comments below:
Whilst not hopeful for the film itself, it does bring my mind back to the crazy age of internet myth building, when tangled conspiracies and invented creepy tales haunted us at every corner.
An age when these types of stories blending Slender Man into every facet of popular culture were extremely common.
Whilst there have been many other popular characters emerging from Creepypasta stories, and internet legends, none have quite compared to the scope and scale of Slender Man, and perhaps the character does deserve a fitting homage some time in the future.
Will this new movie fit the bill?
Slender Man hits American cinemas on 24 August 2018.