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With: Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso, Alex Fitzalan, Taylor Richardson, Javier Botet
Written by: David Birke, based on a character created by Victor Surge
Directed by: Sylvain White
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing images, sequences of terror, thematic elements and language including some crude sexual references
Running Time: 93
Date: 08/10/2018

Slender Man (2018)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Worn Thin

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Based on a 2009 viral internet meme that gave plenty of people the creeps, this horror movie is conversely filled with stale, worn-out scares, crude effects and jump-scares, and lazy storytelling.

In Slender Man, four best friends — Wren (Joey King), Hallie (Julia Goldani Telles), Chloe (Jaz Sinclair), and Katie (Annalise Basso) — spend another Friday night together and are intrigued to learn that some boys they know are going to attempt to summon the Slender Man. They get on the internet and decide to do the same. They watch a video and are unsettled by some of the images they see, as well as the chiming of distant bells.

Soon, the girls suffer from nightmares, and Katie simply disappears during a class field trip. The rest of the girls attempt to placate the monster to get their friend back, but things just seem to get worse, including dark visions, possible insanity, and suicide attempts. When Hallie's younger sister also becomes afflicted, she decides to do something drastic.

Even given the opportunity of a (perhaps) genuinely scary central figure, Slender Man still feels like a hundred other horror movies, basically anything that involves people's curiosity getting them into trouble. Its other problem is that it's deliberately gutted for its PG-13 rating, and doesn't really contain any scares other than the usual loud percussion noise whenever the monster appears.

Director Sylvain White (The Losers) films everything in dimly-lit rooms, especially a library and a hospital, perhaps in an effort to use the smeary grayness to cover up the obviously shoddy digital effects. The rhythms are off as well, with every attempt at a spooky reveal occurring either too fast or too slow.

The one thing Slender Man does correctly is that it actually conveys a sense of loss among the characters. They actually care about one another, and are deeply affected by the disappearances and other troubles. Actress Joey King, specifically, is a spunky, feisty standout; she's the only one that seems to feel real fear in this, and gives a little extra in her performance.

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