Maybe I’m too old to give a fuck about new monsters. If you weren’t terrorizing my dreams and forcing my toes under blankets for safety by the time I was ten, I don’t see it for you, fam. At least, I doubt you’ll elicit in me anything akin to that childhood fear and wonder that accompanies tales of werewolves, vampires, boogeymen, or any of the other classic things that go BUMP in the night. That’s why it’s really hard for me to care about Slender Man.
For one, I don’t think I’m the audience for the Marble Hornets villain (known as The Operator in the web series). And I don’t mean, “I’m not the audience” in the “I’m too lazy to read or try to understand your submission to the workshop” MFA dude kind of way. I mean that I think I missed the generational time frame to be included in the Slender Man hype.
Though I have a blog, I’m not really an internet person. I actually really hate technology in the Black Mirror sense, meaning I think it’s going to be (is) the doom of us all. That and the fact that I was 19 when Eric Knudsen premiered his creepy creation on the Something Awful forum in 2009 ensured that I didn’t learn about Slender Man or the hype surrounding him until years later. In fact, it wasn’t until 2013 that I even heard the name “Slender Man.”
I was 23 and tutoring a cute but easily distracted ten-year-old in Ancona, Italy. Our sessions usually consisted of ten minutes of his attention followed by fifty minutes of him trying to convince me to end his English lessons early, so he could play Grand Theft Auto. I don’t remember why or how, but one day we got on the topics of what scares us. I went first, telling him that I had a weird fear of a man with an extremely pale face and sharp teeth that was always smiling.
“Ah! Slender Man!” the boy said. His eyes were wide now. “He scares me too. He scares me so much. I love him.”
I didn’t know who or what he was talking about, so he pulled out his tablet and showed me a picture. This wasn’t what I was referring to when I talked about my fear. The figure that I was talking about was simply something from a nightmare I had when I was a kid and looked more like if Nosferatu, Pennywise, and Uncle Fester had some weird orgy that produced a fully-grown monster.
What the boy showed me on the tablet was…underwhelming to say the least. It was a really tall dude with wide shoulders, and a featureless white face wearing a business suite. I have a fear of men in suits, but they’re more of the Wall Street variety and my fear is more of them scamming me out of whatever little money I have and crashing our housing market again.
Yeah, this guy was nowhere near as terrifying as the vampire, clown, Addams Family amalgamation from my twisted dreams, but it filled the kid with dread and excitement. I knew the feeling. I loved that feeling when I was younger, so I didn’t rain on his parade.
“Yeah, that’s him,” I said and didn’t give Slender Man another thought until a year or so later when he was in the news for some disturbing reasons.
In 2014, two twelve-year-old girls stabbed a classmate 19 times to impress the internet boogeyman known as Slender Man. The case was all over the news. There was talk about the impact of the internet on children and every other argument that comes up every time a child or teen does something horrible an irreversible and claims the TV made them do it. I always felt like this argument is something defense attorneys turn to because they know that parents and potential jurors eat that shit up. The average U.S citizen wants to believe that kids (especially white ones) are incapable of violence unless they are warped by the media or something else.
Personally, I don’t think that’s true. I’ve watched too many horror movies. I know too many sane, functioning, upstanding pillars of society who indulge in the weird and morbid side of entertainment on a regular basis and manage not to stab their friends and family because of it.
The truth is that some people are just insane. There are real, live, violent sadists out there and they were all children once. I’m not saying that those two girls are/were sadists but there was definitely something wrong with them mentally to commit such a heinous act. It takes a lot of apathy and wickedness to stab a person 19 times and leave them for dead. Slender Man didn’t instill the violent notions in these girls, he just gave them a reason to carry out this detestable act. My philosophy on this subject matter is summed up by Billy Loomis in Scream.
But here I am 800 words in and I haven’t even gotten to the review of the trailer yet. I give you that long ass introduction and backstory just so you know that though I’m not a fan of or even understand the hype surrounding Slender Man, I don’t think the newest addition to the horror monster hall of fame is any more guilty of influencing teens than Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger. Basically, I’m uninformed and unbiased.
Anyway, the trailer.
I’ll post the trailer below, so watch it before you read my thoughts.
Initial reaction: Meh.
As I keep saying, I don’t really know or care too much about Slender Man so the fact that the movie is coming out soon didn’t really stir anything in me, but I kept seeing posts about it so I figured I’d take a look. Just like when that ten-year-old boy in Italy showed me the picture I was extremely underwhelmed watching the trailer.
It seems to be your basic urban legend. Four friends. One goes missing after visiting a mysterious website dedicated to Slender Man. The three remaining friends investigate the website and decide with horror movie logic that the best way to get their friend back is to invoke the pale pituitary case themselves. Chaos ensues.
There wasn’t really anything that stood out to me about the trailer. It looks like there will be some jump scares, some cool visuals, some ominous lighting.
One thing I did notice was that there is a black female character who will be one of the three girls searching for their friend. This is important to me not only because I’m a black girl writing about horror movies, but because as I’ve said on other posts, black women are horribly underrepresented in a genre that many of us love.
The problem with this is that I didn’t see much of Jaz Sinclar’s character, Chloe in the trailer and she is the only one out of the four who didn’t speak in the trailer. This doesn’t bode well for a genre that usually places women of color in the best friend with no character development roles at best and obvious redshirt roles at worst.
Basically, I’m worried that Chloe will have the least significant role in the movie.
I’m not sure though, so I’ll hold out hope.
Speaking of hope, don’t think that because I’ve spent the majority of this post talking about my ambivalence toward Slender Man and the lack of excitement that I had for the trailer, that I won’t watch it.
I love horror. Yes, I think this movie is a strategy for movie studios to cash in on the internet craze that Slender Man caused a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be some cool things in there.
What I’m looking forward to the most (besides the black girl character) is Slender Man’s backstory. I really hope they give us something. Maybe there doesn’t have to be a long drawn out origin story, but something to ponder the mysterious faceless villain’s history would be cool. Why does he target children? Is teaching some kind of lesson? Why does he use the internet? Was he around before the internet? Does he want all children or just the ones that go onto his webpage?
I don’t know if the movie will answer any of these questions, but I’ll tune in to find out.
If you’re excited about this movie, please let me know in the comments! Have you always been a fan of Slender Man? Did you watch the web series devoted to him? What looks good in the trailer?
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