As one gets older, one begins to lose track of what turns the kiddies on. After all, adults (the mature kind, not the man-boys & women-girls who have physically matured but are still mentally stunted) have more important objectives to accomplish, such as paying bills, yard work, house maintenance, car maintenance, family upbringing & all the other responsibilities one encounters once the ink is dry on the diploma (high school, college or otherwise).
When you’re young, you always think that you’ll always keep your finger on the pulse of the bleeding edge trends. However, maturity teaches us that kids are a slippery & conniving bunch who, like the occupants from “Logan’s Run,” like to kick the old out of paradise for no other reason then they’re old. Quite frankly, I don’t seem to mind because I simply don’t often understand what the kiddies are raving about anyway.
Take, for example, the new trend in horror movies. It’s not really “new” – It’s been around for at least fifty years in movie format & quite a bit longer in other formats.
Telling a story from a first-person perspective has one inherent advantage – It deprives the viewer from knowing too much, from seeing the proverbial “man behind the curtain.” If knowledge is power, a lack of knowledge translates into a certain feeling of helplessness.
We old-timers forget that there is an army of 15 year olds who have never known a world without the Internet in it’s current incarnation. BBSes (Bulletin Board Systems) is something their parents played with. Atari consoles? They’ve probably seen one in a museum or read about it in a history book. How easy it is to forget that there are a legion of twenty-somethings who know only of a world after the original Star Wars trilogy debuted & left the movie theater. It is easy to forget, hard to believe but also painfully true.
This new generation has grown up in an age of information saturation & instant Internet gratification. Don’t know who the 23rd president of the United States is? Look it up on Wikipedia. Can’t remember the name of that movie but you do remember the actor? IMDB.com is your friend. Want to see how that new video game is playing with the critics? Metacritic is there to tell you how badly the game actually sucks. Of course, when all else fails, our youthful replacements already know that they can simply “Google” it.
The modern Library of Alexandria is at our latest generation’s fingertips & they know exactly how to use the card catalog to find what they’re looking for.
How appropriate that, in this age of McInformation, the new horror is a lack of knowledge… Not being able to see outside the frame, not being told the complete story, not knowing what really happened or how it happened or even why.
From “The Last Broadcast” to “The Blair Witch Project” to “Cloverfield” and, most recently, “Paranormal Activity,” our horror is not derived from a lunatic plunging a knife down or using a chainsaw but from a camera turning off or turning away at an inconvenient moment when an important truth is revealed. Our latest generation is aghast at the thought that they may never know the truth… That it may always be elusive. How spoiled they truly are & how fortunate that we may spoil them so.
Marble Hornet’s “Slender Man” is, by no means, the first ‘viral’ mockumentary ever to hit the Internet. Not even close. Just a few years back, someone cooked up a similar stunt on YouTube involving a girl (actually an actress) who slowly documents her rather creepy living arrangements. However, it is the first to utilize an Internet meme called the “Slender Man.”
If the premise of “Where’s Waldo?”, the creepiness of an Edward Gorey illustration & the generic look of “Hitman 44″ from the “Hitman” video game series (with a touch of “Nosferatu” height) all had a motel room orgy, you would get the Internet meme known as The “Slender Man.” Just as the concept of the Necronomicon became an open-source concept amongst a variety of gothic horror writers in the early 20th century, the “Slender Man” seems to have caught wind with a variety of similarly-minded enthusiasts.
In this case, Marble Hornet’s “Slender Man” saga blurs the line between movie, Internet hoax & twitter account to weave a tale that is both horribly cliched & yet holds intriguing potential. Although late to the party, I’ve caught up enough on this “movie” to be able to review it. It appears, at this time, to be winding down although, since it is far from an official production, the brain trust behind the production can simply make more.
The name “Marble Hornet’s Slender Man” isn’t really official – There is an account on YouTube called “MarbleHornet” that purports to be real. The name “Marble Hornet” is integral towards the movie’s plot – In it, a disturbed young film student named Alex was shooting a movie called “Marble Hornets” when an encounter with “The Slender Man” throws him off the edge. A friend named Jay, who briefly worked on the movie, eventually receives the raw footage (more then a bit of an obvious nod to The Last Broadcast & Blair Witch) & gets drawn into the mystery.
I have to admit that the premise was compelling & a lot of the delivery was effective. Right from the start, we see glimpses of a bald, tall, slender man seemingly appearing in the strangest locations, not unlike the latest incarnation of “Burger King”‘s Burger King, except this individual isn’t surprising you with a tasty burger. It’s also clear that Alex is more then a bit unnerved that he’s being stalked by this character.
I definitely appreciated a lot of the short playing time with the segments. I found that, the longer the segments, the less effective they were. In fact, a few of the later longer segments were downright boring. Granted, I had the misfortune of viewing these segments all in a row whereas a follower had to wait weeks or even a month before seeing the next segment (or “entries,” as they are called) so they probably poured over every last second of it.
Looking at the YouTube hits, it would appear that a lot of people have lost interest in the movie & I can’t blame them. There’s a lot of horror movie cliches in the movie that are maddeningly blatant. Chief amongst these cliches is entering a spooky house at night. Please… For the love of Hitchcock… Don’t do that. It makes your production look really, really, really stupid.
There were a lot of nice touches that I liked about the production. Persons afflicted with sightings of “The Slender Man” begin to lose their memory & become insanely paranoid about recording themselves. “The Slender Man” also seems to have an effect on taping equipment, giving them audio & visual damage.
However, there were far too many nods to The Blair Witch Project to ever take this movie too seriously. Just like The Blair Witch had her own “symbol,” so too does our Slender Man. A white cloth doll in this movie is just like the stick figures in The Blair Witch Project.
This movie is not just a series of YouTube videos, though. Far from. There’s also a twitter account & a follow-up series of YouTube videos from someone named “Totheark.” It’s all, quite honestly, a bit too much & I found myself losing interest about two-thirds of the way in.
I honestly think that the brain trust behind this series has legitimate talent. However, they simply have bitten off more then they can chew. Alex wasn’t a compelling character to care about. Jay walks right into a scary abandoned house in the middle of the night (Let’s count the cliches – (1). Flashlight only, (2). He’s alone in a place that is known for danger, (3). An overexcitable cop would shoot him dead for trespassing, (4). It’s nighttime…). In all fairness, there is a moment in Entry #18 that created genuine fear when someone in a mask (possibly Alex) appears at the end of a dark hallway & “attacks” Jay. Even this moment, though, is over-saturated, with the mask being far too close to other masks like in the movie “Scream” or even the Joker’s make-up.
While the production values were impressive for a YouTube effort, I think that the film makers should have retained more suspense & kept the “shock moments” for later in the movie then having one at the very start of it. Why not have the series start as a legitimate airing of footage & then have “Totheark” begin to point out some weirdness & then escalate it from there? Why not some footage of Jay realizing that he can’t find Alex or Brian initially through conventional methods?
While I must commend the production for being a worthy effort, I think that some toning down & rationing of the weirdness would’ve made this into a much more effective & creepy production overall.
I actually highly recommend this series if anyone’s got a spare couple of hours to go through the 60+ current ‘episodes.’ Well presented, carefully thought out, and executed quite uniquely.