The latest trailer for Slender Man feels like an endurance test. How many scary movie clichés can we survive in a movie that’s supposed to represent the cutting edge of horror? Creepypasta is only 10 years old, and yet this trailer feels like it’s nearing retirement age—with an extra dash of actual disgust.
Slender Man is the first major film based on a real internet urban legend—the story of Slender Man, which debuted in 2009 and has since faded in popularity. The trailer tells the story of three teenage girls who summon Slender Man in order to find their missing friend, only to get caught in the wake of his madness.
Even in this small peek it suffers from subpar special effects, repetitive scares, and dialogue that feels like it was written by an adult instead of for teenage girls. Here’s actual dialogue from the trailer:
Girl 1: “Okay, Twitter poll: If you could stay one age forever, what would it be?”
Girl 2: “What about the age we are right now?”
Then, there’s Slender Man himself. The first trailer kept the titular slenderest of men in the shadows for the most part, but this follow-up puts him front and center. And boy oh boy, it’s umm...not looking that scary. It’s more unpleasant, and uncomfortable. The movie seems to take the story of Slender Man and change it from an exploration of how a fictional horror meme can impact real people—inspiring everything from video games to actual attempted murder—into a straight horror film about a real, tangible figure. Unfortunately, without the connection to creepypasta as a storytelling genre and the hysteria Slender Man (as a fictional meme) inspired in the real world, it ends up coming across as a story about a creepy-handed man with tentacles grabbing underage girls in the middle of the night.
In addition to the unwelcome sexual undertones, the movie has also faced condemnation from the father of one of the girls involved in the 2014 stabbing of a classmate as part of a sacrifice to Slender Man. He said it was “extremely distasteful” that Sony would create a movie about a character who’s inspired real harm, and asked his local theater not to show Slender Man when it comes out August 10.