horror

Slender Man Movie Review: False Advertising & Wasted Potential

slender-man-main_81f1bbbcf8The newest “Slender Man” (2018) movie was released last night. I don’t normally write reviews unless I feel inspired to do so. Sometimes this is a good thing. In this case, it wasn’t. I have been fascinated by the Slenderman (Slender Man?) phenomenon for quite a while. I’m not even talking about the subsequent crimes that took place by mentally ill teenagers. I’ve been fascinated by the idea of how legends can be created so quickly and go viral thanks to the innovation of the internet.

One of my side jobs is being a writer for TheRichest. I had the awesome chance to write a script about Slenderman before the new movie came out. You can check it out here. I recommend watching this before or after you see the movie, because frankly, the real story is more interesting than what the movie portrayed:

Now that we’re on the same page, here are my thoughts on the new “Slender Man” movie.

It was a huge disappointment. It had amazing source material to draw from, and it failed on epic levels. If you don’t want spoilers, then I recommend you stop reading now.

My first major issue with it was the movie dragged. There wasn’t a lot of meat to this movie at all, and it seemed like the writers didn’t have a lot to work with. The result was every mediocre action was dragged out much longer than it should have. There were moments where the pace picked up, usually with when SM made an appearance or attacked, which didn’t happen often. The movie felt like 3 hours when it was about an hour and thirty minutes.

My second issue is how the world was built. It started okay, but then it went downhill from there. First off, you summon Slender Man by watching a video on the Internet. Once I saw this, I immediately thought of “The Ring”, but this concept wasn’t as well executed. But an online video? Sure. I suppose one could argue that since SM was born from the internet, then it would make sense. But, there is a plot hole that derails this theory later on in the movie. One of the characters, named Wren, goes to the library to do more research on SM and finds that his origins and child-stealing activities could even date back to him being the Pied Piper. If you can only summon SM from an online video, how does that explain his child-stealing activities before we had the internet?

After the first girl , Katie, disappeared, there was some scratching the surface on potentially having the father involved, or at least aware of some occult activities. But that is never revisited again.

The mystery girl who the characters chatted with online was never fully explored besides a follow-up news article that she went nuts. How did she know so much about SM? Was her mind being controlled by SM? Why didn’t the character speak to her more since she was so knowledgeable? Another plot hole that wasn’t further explored.

The biggest thing that bothered me was that the main character were incredibly whiny and weak. When Katie first disappears, all they can question is whether it was SM. At first, they are proactive in trying to find their friend as they deal with their own nightmares and hallucinations. Then, that drive wanes off for two of the characters. When Wren tries to do more research, she comes across a theory that SM is bioelectric, and he is using that bioelectric energy to break down the minds of his victim. Again, this was interesting, but once again, unexplored. There was no attempt to really try to STOP Slenderman from his ghastly agenda. Hallie (with the last name Knudsen in honor of the creator of SM, Eric Knudsen/Victor Surge), doesn’t seemed to be bothered trying to figure out what’s going on despite having her own SM sightings. All the while denying things were going on and trying to explain everything. If her sightings were trivial and debunkable in the movie, that would be one thing, but she was having full-out sightings and intense nightmares. And yet, that didn’t drive her to do more? Her love interest, Tom, also ends up watching the video. All we see is that he’s shaken up coming into class sometime after with bruises on his arm. Again, this plot point is not revisited.

Given that Slenderman has no real canon besides what people on the internet have conjured up, this movie had the potential to bring something new and fresh to the legend. Unfortunately, this fell incredibly short. As mentioned in my video, it would have been cool to explore the idea that is was US who created Slenderman through collective thought. Then, the girls go into this whole thing of trying to get people to STOP thinking about Slenderman, which of course, would never happen. It seemed that the girls were doomed from the beginning because they didn’t do anything to try to stop him. The movie dragged on and on with questions on what SM was, their boring nightmares, and trying to brush it off as if it were nothing.

There was also no violent crimes mentioned or even performed in this movie. I assume it was for the respect and sensitivity to the crimes that Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser committed in 2014. There were a few other SM crimes that year as well. However, the movie could have done something…like a desperate attempt by one of the girls to try to save herself?

Why do I have “false advertising” in the title of the review? Let’s get into that.

Also, if we look at the original trailer, there were plot points brought up in the trailer that didn’t make the cut in the movie:

The part where Chloe stabs herself in the eye doesn’t make the cut. Instead, she gets visited and choked by Slender Man and becomes catatonic. The girl writing, “Can you see him?” seems to be the mystery chatter from the beginning of the film. But this is a scene we never see. Also, we never see a girl walking out of the woods, to be greeted by police cars. It looks like the mystery chatter again. AGAIN. Why wasn’t this plot point explored? We also never see the guy taking his own life by jumping off the roof. It looks like they had planned for maybe a more violent movie and then postponed the release from May to August to completely change the movie? It would make sense as to why we got this final product. However, the movie that the official trailer sold to us was not the final product that we received in the theater.

Screen-Shot-2018-01-03-at-10.16.09-AM

See this scene? You won’t see it in the movie.

At the end, SM is the winning champion of the movie, as the girls (predictably) falter and join him in the other world. The most interesting part of the movie is the last 10 minutes. But even the last shot of the movie was mediocre and boring as it showed a school hallway. It definitely left you feeling a void of wasting 90 minutes of your life on wasted potential.

“Lights Out” 2016 Review: Scares & Mental Illness

Tonight, I had the pleasure of seeing the movie, “Lights Out.” I’ve been a horror movie buff since I was a kid. I love scary movies, especially paranormal ones about ghosts, demons, and other creatures that go bump in the night. I do like the slasher movies as well, but paranormal suspense has a special place in my heart.

I became a HUGE fan of director David Sandberg back in 2013 when he released the short film, “Lights Out – Who’s There”, which starred his wife, Lotta Losten. While the film was only 3 minutes, it was enough to scare the bejesus out of me and dread touching the light switch. The short caught the attention of James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring 1 & 2, Insidious), who ended up producing the movie.

If you’re not familiar with the short film, take a (literal) few minutes and watch it here:

Lights Out – Who’s There Film Challenge (2013) from David F. Sandberg on Vimeo.

Now let’s talk about the movie. The premise of the movie is that adults can have imaginary friends too. I didn’t realize how much this added to the creep factor until seeing the movie. If anything, the movie shows that adults can be more destructive than children when it comes to those sinister friends that [we think] no else can see.

I don’t want to give away spoilers, but I also thought how the movie touched on mental illness was handled with care, and also presented a forewarning. That forewarning is that the more we dwell on our condition, stop taking medication, shut out those who love us, and ignore the fact that there’s a problem, will cause one to descend into a downward spiral of losing the battle to that illness. That hit me personally, as I struggle immensely with depression and anxiety, and will often stew in my own negativity regardless of whose around me. I haven’t reached the point where I was forcing those around me to accept this as is like Sophie (played by Maria Bello), but there is a hard lesson learned. I was impressed with Teresa Palmer’s performance, and Alexander DiPersia was not only pretty to look at but played the concerned and protective “boyfriend” very well. The standout for me was little Gabriel Bateman who played Martin, and pretty much would reflect my actions should I ever be in a similar situation. Flashlights and candles…and lots of them!

These lessons aside, the movie was great for scares. I jumped several times throughout the movie and found myself saying “Aw heck no” to myself during the even scarier parts. The script is simple, the movie is a little short, and the characters are few. But this makes for a fairly solid horror film as it cuts right to the chase and focuses on the meat of the story rather than embellish it with the bones. It was also cool to see Lotta Losten make her cameo at the beginning of the movie.

In closing, the movie is worth the price of the ticket, and a night or two of sleeping with the lights on.