[Screen It]


(2018) (Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles) (PG-13)

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Horror: Four teenage girls summon an evil demon who stalks them, twists their minds, and drives them to take desperate measures to try and defeat him.
Four high school girls decide to get-together on a Friday night, turn down the lights, and seek out the urban legend the Slender Man (JAVIER BOTET) on the Internet. They've heard that if they watch his video and follow the evil apparition's rules, he will appear to them in all his faceless, spindly-armed glory. At first, they just laugh off the rapid-cut video of weird images and flashing lights. But a vague feeling of dread persists in each.

The four girls include track star Hallie (JULIA GOLDANI TELLES), the most level-headed of the group; Wren (JOEY KING), the most impulsive of the four who pushes for them to watch the video; Chloe (JAZ SINCLAIR), a kind-hearted girl who lost her dad years earlier while he served in the U.S. Army; and Katie (ANNALISE BASSO), the most impressionable of the friends who the Slender Man targets first.

Eventually, all four have run-ins with the demonic force that has "bioelectric" abilities and can scramble cell phones, knock out power, and go on Facetime. He can also appear in dreams and daydreams and warp each girl's reality. Pulled into the terror are Hallie's younger sister, Lizzie (TAYLOR RICHARDSON), and Hallie's new boyfriend, Tom (ALEX FITZALAN). Hallie and Wren eventually surmise they will have to make grave sacrifices if they have any hope of warding off the Slender Man.

OUR TAKE: 0 out of 10
For films not screened for the reviewing press, we only provide a few paragraphs of critical analysis.

The only question that should be asked and answered regarding any new horror flick is "Was it effective?" In the new terror flick "Slender Man," we are told the titular villain will make those who see him feel a constant sense of misery and dread, exhibit feelings of hopelessness and extreme regret, and those victims will get to a point where they will make a great sacrifice just to escape his hold. So, in that respect... yes! Yes, "Slender Man" was effective in that it made me feel ALL of those things while watching it. This is one of the worst movies of the year, dear readers.

The film follows four deadly dull high school girls (Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, and Annalise Basso) as they gather one night to go online and watch an Internet video that summons the Slender Man, a faceless stick-figure boogeyman who looks like the shared nightmare of Guillermo del Toro and Karen Carpenter come to life. The whole mythology of this baddie is muddled and pretty much altogether botched. He's apparently some ages-old demon who can control electromagnetic energy and appear to his prey in both their dreams and daydreams. He can also Facetime and scramble your cell phone. Oh, and he seems to have control of... trees -- at least those with very thin branches and long trunks that look like his scrawny arms and elongated torso.

By design, his victims -- and, thus, the paying public -- never really do get a good look at him. And even if director Sylvain White opted to give everyone a clear glimpse, it wouldn't have been possible with Luca Del Puppo's murky amateurish cinematography. The actual movie theater I sat in was better lit than the entirety of this film, my friends. And I mean, nowhere in this small Massachusetts town where the film is set is there anything resembling a well-lit home, school, hospital, library, you name it. There is not a single light bulb used that is above 40 watts. And everything outside looks like it takes place at dusk, whether it's the beginning of a school day, the end of a school day, a class field trip, sports practice, etc.

The film borrows heavily from "The Ring," "Candyman," and "A Nightmare on Elm Street." But, whether you liked those films or not, they at least had well-drawn origin stories, clear rules, and at least one professional adult actor at its core. The parents in the "Charlie Brown" holiday cartoons have more character than the moms and dads in this flick. And the Slender Man is basically this pop-up demon whose one great move is he's able to stand up slowly and then break into a desperate sprint. Or maybe that was me when the end credits finally rolled. A 0 out of 10, folks. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed August 9, 2018 / Posted August 10, 2018

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