Directed by Sylvain WhiteStarring Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso
Horror, US 2018, 89mins, Cert 15.
Released in the UK on Digital on 17th December and DVD and Blu-Ray on 26th December by DNA
With it’s killer VHS tape and threatening landline phone call, there is little denying that Hideo Nakata’s 1998 chilling RINGU is somewhat dated in today’s digital age. However, its place in the pantheon of classic horror films is assured and its influence can be keenly felt throughout the genre, notably in Sylvian White’s SLENDER MAN.
Set in Massachusetts, we meet four High school teenage girls, predictably bored with life and looking for something, anything, to do one evening. They decide to watch an on-line video and carry out its simple ritual relating to the urban legend of the slender man, a ghost-like boogeyman figure who reportedly kidnaps those whom summon him. Nothing initially happens but when one of the group goes missing, the girls start to believe they may well actually have opened a metaphorical portal to other worldly forces.
It’s a relatively standard set-up, but it is done effectively with a gothic atmosphere seeping out of the films very dark aesthetic. As the mystery deepens, the girls get caught up between the real world and that of the internet with mysterious chatrooms sending messages and one particularly chilling use of a video call. Merging an ancient myth with modern technology means there is no escape from the titular villain, be it on-line or in the woods where he appears to lurk.
As events unfold though, the film loses its way in the final act. Jump scares which had been used sparingly at first become more frequent, and the very nature of the film becomes more dreamlike and surreal as it searches for an ending. This doesn’t entirely undo the good work of the first hour as the likeable performances from the young cast do at least engage, but what started out as an effective genre piece is unable to maintain its effective mood throughout.
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