Marble Hornet’s “Slender Man” (“movie” review)…

Marble Hornet’s “Slender Man” YouTube “movie” review after the break…

Marble Hornet’s “Slender Man” YouTube “movie” review…

December 19, 2010 Update - Yes, I am aware of the Second season having begun about 3 weeks ago. I will wait until the second season is over before offering any thoughts on it.

Original Post Below -

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 asĀ  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.

8 Responses to “Marble Hornet’s “Slender Man” (“movie” review)…”

  1. reagansmash1994 Says:

    Brilliant review, hoping to finish watching the whole thing before i make a judgement.

  2. Conner Says:

    I am OBSESSED with the slender man meme. Something about it is just..unbelievable. I have been watching Marble Hornets, but, like yourself, began only recently (Though I have watched the entire series thus far)
    I agree with much of what you said, especially about the longer entries becoming rather boring. I must disagree, however, with a small topic–the mask. “Masky”, as he is referred, I believe has a very different mask than any other movie sensations. It is obviously a female face on the mask, and I believe it is quite good. The only similarity is the monotone colors (black and white?), which I feel do not make it as similar as you claim.
    I find this to be a fantastic review otherwise, well done.

  3. Shane Love Says:

    I disagree I found the longer entries to be the best part of the series. I was on edge the whole time Jay explored the house would slender man or Maskey attack? If not the shear silence alone bothered me. Maybe its a generational thing I was born in 1989 and in my whole life I have been around noise: planes, cars, music (I’m listening to the radio right now), cellphones conversations, games and tv blaring. So when Jay was in a quiet place with no background music playing I found the silence deafening.

    Personally I think the series is losing steam in different way as Jay gets fleshed out ,in the second season, the series is losing what I call the HP Lovecraft effect. HP Lovecraft often wrote stories without giving the main character a description or name. The reason for this is without a name or description you (at least in my readings) fill the void of the main protagonist and therefore go through the fear with the main charter. With characterization one becomes detached from the situation for its not happening to you its happening to Jay, Alex, etc.

    • Lutonaut Says:

      Hi Shane and thank you for reading my blog.

      Referring to the attack in the abandoned house at night… I found the entire scenario to be frustrating. Entering a dark, abandoned house at night with the realistic threat of violence (aka “I heard a noise down in the basement – Investigate it”) is an old horror movie cliche that is meant to evoke cheap suspense because it forces the hero into a vulnerable situation with a villain lying in wait, forcing confrontation. When masked by a good script, the situation can be useful but all too often it is merely a cheap screenwriting ploy meant to move the story forward in some trivial way. After all – If YOU heard mysterious noises in your basement, would you investigate with only a flashlight? If I remember correctly, the comedy show “Saturday Night Live” once tackled this very type of cliche somewhat humorously.

      Again, thank you for reading my blog.

  4. Alex Says:

    I was watching this series the other day, and the thing that really kills me about it is that they’re trying to tell a story, but the story has no form at all. This starts out effective, but just gets annoying as you drag it out. It’s one thing when the narrator doesn’t know what’s going to happen, but when the *writer* seems to have no idea either, it’s hard to keep watching (c.f. LOST).

    Every time one mystery is solved, it provides no new information, but instead ten new mysteries pop out (ex: the safe in the hotel room, which turned out to be stuffed with more endless ambiguity). This leads to bloat, as you can see by the fact that one youtube account has expanded to two youtube accounts, a twitter account, and god knows what else. Consider this: After some fifty-odd videos, we know nothing more about the main antagonist than we did when the series started: Causes electromagnetic interference and always wears a suit.

    I’m not saying that what they’re doing can’t be effective if done right, but they’d have to do some pretty impressive work wrapping up the series. Unless they fold everything together just right, the only options are to just cut it and leave the series hanging, or tack on a stupid resolution that makes it look like they had no plan for their other story elements (c.f. LOST).

    • Lutonaut Says:

      Hi Alex and thank you for reading my blog.

      I have not followed the Marble Hornets story lately but my assessment, based on what I’ve seen of the “second season,” is that the current implementation has overstayed it’s welcome. It is a trait that a lot of properties, not just “Marble Hornets,” suffers from – How to follow up a successful story when no such sequel was planned for in the original story. I hope the best for “Marble Hornets” and that the crew finds success with another property.

      Again, thank you for reading my blog.

  5. Chelsea Says:

    I’m a huge fan of Marble Hornets and am curious to know more about the older viral video blog you mentioned (the one about the girl and her living arrangements.) Where can I find it?
    Also, great review.

  6. Jordan Caposi Says:

    I’ve started watching these videos because they were recommended to me… I’m about 10 entries in and have completely lost interest.

    I mean, clip #1 shows the antagonist, taking away most if not all potential for real suspense. My heart rate hasn’t changed through any of the clips. Well… maybe that’s not entirely true. It probably slowed down a few beats for a few of them!

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