It would be hard to dispute that, of all of the mythology and folklore that the internet has produced, Slenderman has shown time and time again to be the most prevelant and the most, for lack of a better word, popular. Slenderman has shown up in art, video games and movies. Most recently being this movie, Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story.
A small town news team discovers a box of video tapes where a faceless figure dressed in a dark suit, haunts and torments a family… slowly driving them insane. Soon after, they realize that the “Operator” has begun to stalk them as well.
Building on the story and world created by the long running YouTube series Marble Hornets, Always Watching is not continuing the story, but set in the same universe.
Shot in the ever-popular found-footage style, this movie follows Milo as he and his news team find themselves followed by The Operator (Slenderman). Considering this one has it’s roots in YouTube and Internet Mythology, it’s pretty easy to assume it to be lacking in any substance. That said, it was kind of a pleasant surprise. There’s certainly enough about Slenderman to make him a pretty frightening concept, so it makes sense to me that movies and media would start to emerge featuring him.
The casting in the movie is fine, no one does an especially bad job, but no one really blew me away. The big get for this movie was Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy), althought being a guy in a suit with no face who has very little to do but appear and stand perfectly still, it did seem like an unfortunate underutilization of Jones, given his already displayed talents for bizarre and terrifying performances. While the character does have an air of menace and a real eerieness about him, it feels like anyone who was tall and thin could have played the role and Jones could have been utilized so much more than he was.
The rest of the cast is fine, not a ton of recognizable faces, with the exception of (at least for me) Chris Marquette (Fanboys, Freddy VS Jason) and one or two “What’s that guy from?” type appearances from TV actors. There are a few cheeseball performances to be sure, but it’s far from being an Asylum film. I will say I think that the movie is reasonably well written, coming from the mind of the same fella who wrote Splinter (which, by the way, you should check out if you haven’t) and a first time director managed to get some reasonable performances from everyone.
It does fall victim to a lot of the tropes and cliches that found footage movies are so often guilty of, and horror movies for that matter. The dog you immediately know is doomed, the guy slowly losing his mind seeing something no one else sees and drawing symbols on the walls. There is certainly plenty that you can criticize about the movie, but it’s not bad all things considered. It does drag on in some places, and could have benefitted from some better pacing perhaps.
All things considered, this is really not the worst movie you’re going to see this year. It’s got enough to keep you going to the end, but it won’t be making your best-of-2015 list either. If you’re really all caught up on the horror movies you want to see, and you’re after something new, why not give this one a watch?
Also worth mentioning, if you haven’t already seen the Marble Hornets series, it’s worth taking a look at. It’s essentially died off, the last ‘tape’ being uploaded back in January of 2014. However, there are 80+ tapes to look at and it’s a pretty clever series all in all, so go and give that a watch here.