Focus on the Frightful: Slender Man, Pt. 2

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Slender Man, Part Two: The Movie

Again, I’d like to remind people that what follows is strictly my opinion. I have no financial interest in whether or not the movie succeeds or fails.

When I first heard that they were coming out with a Slender Man movie I was excited. It was the first that actually looked like it had a budget and some decent acting behind it. There have been quite a few knock-offs that haven’t come close to being much more than an excuse for found footage laziness. I’ll be talking about one of the few exceptions, Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story, a little later.

So What’s My Problem with the Movie?

I read the synopsis and started to get a bad feeling about it. I watched the trailer and that bad feeling gave way to disgust. It seemed to be taking its plot from a very real tragedy that began in 2014 and finally closed recently. I have no desire to go into the details of it. I do have very definite opinions on it but I’m here to talk about the movie.

I find the timing of the release of the movie to be at minimum in bad taste and at worst preying on the notoriety of the case. I might not have thought this if the plot didn’t bear a suspicious resemblance to the actual events. There have been other movies so why does this one bother me so much? The Always Watching: A Marble Hornets movie was almost cancelled because of the incident but decided to go forward. So why no public outcry about that movie? I believe it’s because none of the plots of the previously mentioned movies even remotely resemble the case. The new movie Slender Man, does. A few of the scenes in the trailer, in my opinion, seemed to exploit it. Whether by design or not is beside the point.

The movie has nothing worthwhile to say on the subject. It’s nothing but your typical horror movie, designed to be brainless junk food designed to cater to the teenage market. A mix of Slenderman with elements of Americanized J-Horror. Perhaps that’s what strikes me as predatory. Film School Rejects has some interesting things to say about the movie but I don’t think they hit the nail quite on the head. The thrust of their argument is that the movie should look more closely into cartoon characters being used for malign purposes. Much like the Joe Camel argument in the nineties. However, Slenderman was never created with that intention. It was created as a scary story and that’s all. A modern urban legend never meant to be taken as ‘fact’ or reality.

So Why Is This the Last On-Site Mention of the Movie?

This is why we will not be promoting the movie on our site. It would be some easy views and clicks but if we did we would have to class ourselves in with those that are trying to get recognition from the same source. And I think I can speak for Lilyn as well as myself when I say we’d rather have no views than those gained on the tail end of a tragic circumstance that, for the peace of all involved, especially the victim and her family, should be dropped.

This might seem contradictory with the first part of this post outlining the Slenderman mythos in some detail but I believed it was necessary to explain a bit on why the movie offended me. Which isn’t a word that I use very often. I also believe there’s an important divide between talking about the Slenderman mythos and the Slender Man movie. Slenderman is fiction. If you want one of the few opinions on the case that I feel comfortable sharing it is this: If those girls had not fixated on that story it would have been any other. And would it have made such an impression if Slenderman were not a product of the horror community?

Horror – Reality and Fiction

The creepypasta community as a whole roundly condemned these acts. It’s there for the sharing of scary stories. It has become the new campfire where stories are told as though they are real but with the basic understanding that they are not. Pointing to one character (game, book, movie, etc.) is overly simplistic and ignores the larger problems. The internet is not a baby-sitter. Parents need to be more aware of what their kids are doing online (and in real life). There are dangerous areas on the internet. A site meant for the sharing of spooky stories and getting feedback on your writing ability is not one of them.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer, no pat solution. This is a question that goes back to the advent of literature itself. The Sentimental and Gothic novels were criticized as being ‘immoral’ and too apt to dwell on improper topics and sensations. In the early eighties the bogeyman was Dungeons & Dragons. No media form has been exempt from it. Stephen King, horror novels, horror movies and heavy metal have all had their day in the court of public opinion (and some quite literally in court). Video games are still brought up from time to time. Oddly enough, it’s action games that bear the brunt in that area rather than horror. Pointing a finger at Slenderman and his creator is the same as pointing a finger at the horror writing community in general.

Final Thoughts

Keeping Slenderman, the idea and internet creation is important to keep separate from the movie. I must admit. I do hope Slenderman does regain some ground. It’s an interesting story that does not deserve to be the absolution and excuse for the actions of two girls. It is also contained to the internet. easily avoidable unless you go looking for him. The movie is the opposite. It will be promoted everywhere and does nothing but serve to open those same wounds. Whatever you think of the perpetrators  (and I have definite thoughts) at least some consideration for the victim should be shown. Let the poor girl mend in peace, body and mind. It won’t be an easy process for her but I’m sure the movie splashing it everywhere can only hurt in the long run.

3 thoughts on “Focus on the Frightful: Slender Man, Pt. 2

  1. Yes, those are my two points boiled down essentially. I’m glad it came through with my sometimes meandering thoughts.
    The question of time was something that I did give some thought to as I’m well aware of how many horror movies are based (Sometimes very loosely but still there) on real-life events. I had to ask myself why this one in particular bothered me more than, say, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Zodiac.

    I will admit that my main issue with the movie at this time could partly be my gut reaction to the event itself, the outcome and also the ages of the people involved. Also, and I may be wrong on this so I’m open to correction, but most times the movie seems to come out quite a bit later than the actual events, giving them time to ‘settle’ for lack of a better word. Some are also so loosely based that the connection wouldn’t be readily apparent without either some digging or the director directly referencing the source material.

    I don’t really see it as ‘topical’, however. It partly seems like a flare-up of the same old argument about how media affects adolescents. Which has become so worn out it feels like it’s not even an argument anymore but a convenient excuse to hang the cause du jour on. For example, why wasn’t the movie picked up and made at the height of its popularity? It would seem like the best time to do it would have been when Slender: the Arrival was released. But it seems to have been conceived, written and shot (again, I may be off on exact dates, I’m just going by the general timing of most movies) after the incident and is being released just a few months after the close of the trial. That alone makes me leery of their intentions.

    On a side note I have to say that I enjoy debating with you and our readers. It’s not very often you can find someone to have a decent talk with on the internet without it crawling under the bridge with the other trolls. 🙂

    1. “Settling” isn’t a bad term to use. People have had time to assess the facts, and revisiting the story won’t traumatize the survivors and other participants. I notice “Chappaquiddick” is coming out as a movie almost half a century after the events in question, and the people most affected, Ted Kennedy and the Kopechne parents, are all dead. So, OK. On the other hand, I suspect Nancy Kerrigan wishes “I, Tonya,” had never been made. Having not seen that movie, I don’t know if it was important or interesting enough to justify reopening that little scandal.

      I was afraid I was being too serious with my original comment. Thanks for letting the readers know you’ll value appropriate serious comments.

      Now back to deciding whether “The Thing” is inappropriately sexy or not.

  2. After reading over your comments, I would boil them down to two criticisms: 1) it’s in poor taste and exploitative, and 2) it confuses a cultural phenomenon, the Slenderman mythos, with a real tragedy, to the detriment of both. Am I being fair?

    I can support both of those reasons, at least to some extent. Spare me a movie on the Dugger family’s scandals before 2065. And, I’m sorry, rock music never killed anyone directly except when used to invoke evil cosmic forces in movies. We’ve been down that rat hole too many times, as you yourself note above.

    And yet, I ask myself, how soon is too soon? Do we lose something in topicality and ability to reflect on our own times? (You probably recognize the odd similarity to the issue of how long copyright now runs: people can’t creatively reuse any book or movie that came out in their own time now, while that wasn’t true for most of the 20th century.) Some noteworthy literature began with a real-life tragedy, e.g. Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy” coming out 19 years after the murder that serves as its basis.

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