Thursday, August 30, 2018

2018 Box Office Predictions Part 3 (September Through December)

For a couple of years now I've been trying my hand at box office predictions, with mixed results. Sometimes my prognostications are spot on, other times they're wildly inaccurate, proving there's just no telling what the general public is willing to pay to sit through. 

Welp, the Summer Blockbuster Season is definitely over, as this slate of upcoming movies demonstrates  with gusto! I can't remember when I've seen such an underwhelming schedule of pictures. There's not a single film on this list I'm looking forward to.

Anyway, on to the predictions. As always, my comments on the various films are in red.

NOTE: This list is for the last four months of the year. There're too many movies to cover all in one go.

September

The Nun
In this prequel (uh-oh) to The Conjuring franchise, a young novice and a priest are sent to a monastery to investigate the suicidal death of a nun, who's become a terrifying demon or something. Premieres September 7.

Wow, this is the FIFTH movie in this franchise, which consists of The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2, Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation

I liked the Conjuring movies OK, but the spinoffs not so much. That said, they've all performed surprisingly well at the box office, consistently grossing $300 million worldwide (!). I see no reason why this one will be any different. I think it'll make between $120 to $150 million domestically.

Peppermint
A gender-flipped Death Wish clone, starring Jennifer Garner as a woman seeking revenge on the thugs who killed her family. Yawn. Premieres September 7.

Why are we doing another of these revenge movies already? We just had an actual Death Wish remake a few months back, and it absolutely tanked at the box office. That doesn't bode well for this carbon copy of a film. To make things even worse, it's been saddled with a title that suggests a Disney film more than a bloody and violent action movie.

On the other hand, Peppermint's directed by Pierre Morel, who helmed District 13 and Taken. So who knows, it could actually be good. Even so, I doubt it'll gross more than $50 to $60 million in the States.

The Predator
An attempt to "reinvent" the franchise, in which a young boy accidentally triggers a signal that brings a crew of upgraded Predators back to earth. Because nothing goes together better than violent, murderous alien hunters and kids, amirite? Premieres September 14.

The original Predator is a bona fide classic, but each subsequent installment has been an exercise in diminishing returns. I can't see this one breaking the trend. It's directed by Shane Black, of all people, who gave us Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (eh), Iron Man 3 (bleh) and The Nice Guys (OK). The previous film, 2010's Predators, could only manage an anemic $52 million at the box office, and I honestly don't see this one being a hit either. I think it might make $75 to $80 million here.

The House With A Clock In Its Walls
A magical fantasy film based on the book of the same name. Amazingly, this whimsical tale is directed by Eli Roth (!!!), who generally specializes in gore fests like Hostel and The Green Inferno! Strange bedfellows indeed! Premieres September 21.

The trailer looks interesting, but I have serious doubts that Roth can pull off a kids' movie. Stranger things have happened though. I think it'll make $80 to $90 million here.

Assassination Nation
A dark comedy about an entire town whose emails are hacked, exposing all their secrets. Premieres September 14.

The movie's directed by Sam Levinson, whose only previous work was Another Happy Day, which I've never heard of. This thing has "Quirky Indie Film" written all over it, which means it'll have a limited release and few people will go even if it's playing in their town. I'm betting it'll make $20 to $30 million domestically.

Smallfoot
A CGI animated film in which Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum) is a Yeti who tries to prove that legendary creatures known as "Smallfoots" (aka humans) really exist. Premieres September 28.

Haven't heard much buzz about it, but it's from Warner Animation Group, who brought us The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie, both of which were huge box office hits. I wouldn't be surprised if this one grosses at least $300 million worldwide.

Hell Fest
A crazed, costumed slasher begins killing for real at a Halloween Haunted House attraction. The unsuspecting patrons think it's all part of the experience until it's too late. Premieres September 28.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but this is actually a really clever idea for a horror film! I'm surprised no one's done it before. It's directed by Gregory Plotkin, who's sole previous work was Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, so that's not good. On the other hand, it's co-produced by Gale Anne Hurd, who worked on some of the most iconic sci-fi films of all time, including The Terminator, ALIENS, The Abyss, Tremors and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. I'm taking that as a hopeful sign. 

Horror movies are cheap to make, so they almost always perform well at the box office. I expect this one to make around $40 to $50 million here.

October

Venom
Good ol' Sony continues to squeeze every last drop out of their Spider-Man franchise. They're really scraping the bottom of the barrel this time though, as they've made a Spider-Man movie that doesn't have Spider-Man in it. Instead they tapped his lamest villain Venom as the ostensible "hero," in a film that looks like a near carbon copy of this year's Upgrade. Premieres October 5.

I've little or no interest in this film, but I think the general public might flock to it thinking that A. They're gonna see Spider-Man in it and B. It's a Marvel Studios film. Boy, will they be in for a double surprise. 

The previous Spider-Man movie (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) could only manage to gross a disappointing $202 million in the States. I think this one might actually do a bit worse. I'm betting it'll make between $150 to $180 million domestically.

A Star Is Born
A washed-up alcoholic musician, whose career is in a downward spiral, helps a young singer and actress find fame. Stars Bradley Cooper as the older musician, and Lady Gaga (!) as the innocent young ingenue. Premieres October 5.

For the record, this is officially the FOURTH version of A Star Is Born. The original premiered in 1937, was remade in 1954 and again in 1976. Apparently every generation feels the need to retell this story. This one's co-written by star Bradley Cooper and gore-meister Eli Roth, which is a pairing so bizarre I don't even know what to make of it. Cooper also makes his directorial debut here, which could be a huge red flag.

I'm honestly flummoxed here, as this film could go either way. If Book Club can gross $68 million, then anything's possible. I think it'll make between $70 and $80 million domestically.

First Man
A biopic (ugh) starring Ryan Gosling as astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. Premieres October 12.

The trailer looks fine, the cast looks fine, the whole thing looks fine. And therein lies the problem, at least for me— the movie feels average, pedestrian and... fine. It's directed by Damien Chazelle, who previously helmed Guy And Madeline On A Park Bench (?), Whiplash and La La Land. I'm sure he'll do a fine job, and the movie'll gross a perfectly fine $60 to $80 million domestically. 

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
Two young boys open a manuscript owned by R.L. Stine (how meta), which inadvertently releases a host of monsters. Premieres October 12. 

Jesus, not another Sony film! How the hell are they still in business? The first Goosebumps film grossed $80 million domestically, so I would expect this one to do slightly better. Maybe $100 to $120 million.

Halloween
Forty years after the events of the original 1978 Halloween, Laurie Strode comes face-to-face with slasher Michael Myers. Premieres October 19.

Whose bloody brilliant idea was it to call this sequel "Halloween" as well? That won't be the least bit confusing when you're trying to buy or stream it on Amazon! Would it have killed them to call it Halloween: The Return or something like that?

Supposedly this ELEVENTH film in the franchise ignores all previous sequels, and picks up right where the original Halloween left off. That's probably not a bad idea, since few if any of the sequels (with the exception of Halloween 3) have been worth the film they were printed on.

It's produced by John Carpenter, so that's a plus. It's co-written by Danny McBride (!), along with David Gordon Green, who also directed. Green seems an odd choice to helm a slasher pic, as he previously brought us mediocre stoner comedies like Pineapple Express and The Sitter. But he also directed last year's biopic Stronger, so who knows? It could end up being good. 

I just worry that given the movie's timeline, Michael Myers is likely pushing 70 right about now. At this point it's gonna strain credulity if his victims can't get away from him at a brisk walk.

IT grossed a whopping $327 million last fall, but I don't think this one'll do quite that well. I think it might make between $180 to $200 million.

Hunter Killer
A U.S. Navy submarine captain (played by Gerard Butler) teams with Navy Seals to rescue the Russian president, who's been kidnapped by a rogue general. Premieres October 26.

When I saw the trailer I honestly thought it was another Olympus Has Fallen sequel, especially since it stars Butler. Apparently not though, and he's just resigned himself to making the same movie over and over. It's directed by Donovan Marsh, who brought us such classics as Avenged (?). Spud (??) and Dollar$ + White Pipes (???). 

Eh, I dunno about this one. Butler's previous film Geostorm grossed an anemic $33 million here. I get that this film is completely unconnected to that one, but still, I would be very surprised if this one makes over $50 million.

November

Bohemian Rhapsody
Another goddamned biopic, this time about the life of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Premieres November 2.

Holy crap, this movie has "disaster" written all over it! Originally Sacha Baron Cohen was set to star as Mercury, which is the most perfect bit of casting I've ever seen. Unfortunately he quit the project due to creative differences with producer and Queen guitarist Brian May, who insisted on sanitizing the sordid details of Mercury's life. 

If that wasn't enough, director Bryan Singer was fired from the film for showing up late (or not at all) and clashing with the cast and crew. Dexter Fletcher was brought in to finish the film, although Singer somehow retains full credit. Fletcher directed such classics as Wild Bill (?), Sunshine On Leith (??) and Eddie The Eagle (???). But hey, at least it's guaranteed to have a killer soundtrack, amirite?

Even though I think the film's doomed, the general popcorn-munching public will be oblivious to all these behind the scenes shenanigans, and will likely flock to it like flies. I think it'll make around $60 to $80 million before word of mouth kills it.

Suspiria
A remake of the 1977 Dario Argento film, in which a young woman attends a dance academy that's a front for a coven of witches. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, who helmed last year's pedo-fest Call Me By Your Name. Premieres November 2.

Unlike the rest of the world, I'm not a fan of the original cult classic. Sure it looked amazing, but I felt the storyline was dull, vague and unfocused (like most Italian horror films!). This remakes looks like more of the same. Despite that, there's a lot of buzz surrounding it and the budget is a paltry $10 million, so it's guaranteed to be a box office hit. I think it'll make $70 to $80 million here, and do much better overseas.

Oh, and the old German man in the movie is totally Tilda Swinton in geriatric drag! Go watch the trailer and you'll see I'm right.

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch
A CGI remake of the beloved Xmas classic, with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the titular character. Premieres November 9.

It's co-directed by Yarrow Cheney, who gave us The Secret Life Of Pets (shouldn't that be "lives?"), which was a pretty big hit, so this one oughta be a box office hit as well. I'm betting it'll make at least $300 to $350 million here. 

Overlord
In the final days of WWII, a planeload of American soldiers crash land behind German lines. They discover a small base in which Nazi scientists are creating zombie soldiers. Premieres November 9.

This sounds like a really cool premise, and it's produced by JJ Abrams, who, while I'm not a huge fan, has done some decent work in the past.

Unfortunately it appears to be a shot for shot ripoff of the 2013 Dutch film Frankenstein's Army. It's set in the final days of WWII, as a troop of Russian soldiers discover a small base in which Nazi scientists are creating mechanically-augmented soldiers. Sounds a little familiar, eh? I hope Paramount has a good legal team!

It's directed by Julius Avery, who's done pretty much nothing but short films up to now. Abrams' previously produced 10 Cloverfield Lane, which grossed around $72 million here. I would expect Overlord to do about the same. $60 to $80 million. 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindlewald
A sequel to Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, this installment follows Newt Scamander as he and a young Albus Dumbledore try to thwart the plans of the evil Gellert Grindelwald. Premieres November 16.

I wasn't a huge fan of the previous film, mostly because I can't stand prequels and I'm sort of over the Wizarding World. This one's directed by David Yates, who helmed the earlier film (along with four of the Harry Potter movies), so that's a good sign. It stars Johnny Depp though, who, guilty or not, has been in hot water lately, so that could cost them some ticket sales. 

The previous movie grossed $272 million in the States. I think this one will probably do $275 to $300 million.

Ralph Breaks The Internet
In this sequel to 2013's Wreck-It Ralph, the titular character and his friends are accidentally unleashed onto the world wide web. Wonder if Ralph'll discover internet porn? Premieres November 21.

Never got around to seeing the original, as I don't like sitting in theaters full of screaming, unruly kids. It barely managed to make a profit, grossing an underwhelming $189 million in the U.S. I think it may have become more popular after it was released to home video, so there'll be more interest this time around. I'm betting it'll make $200 to $225 million domestically.

Creed 2
Hooray, sequels! This time around, Adonis Creed struggles to balance his personal life with his training, as his mentor Rocky Balboa mumbles incomprehensible advice. Which is exactly what happened in the previous movie. Premieres November 21.

I thought Creed was much better than it had any right to be, as it was a striped-down story that wisely ignored most of the sub-par sequels. It was directed by Ryan Coogler, who unfortunately isn't returning for his installment. Instead this one's directed by Steven Caple Jr, who's done a whole lot of nothing up to this point.

Creed was a financial hit, as it grossed $173 million worldwide ($109 million domestically) against its tiny $35 million budget. I predict this one might do a little better, grossing maybe $150 to $170 million here.

Robin Hood
Why? Do we really need a new goddamned version of Robin Hood every five years? Premieres November 21.

When I first saw a still of the characters in costume, I honestly thought it was set in the present day. Oddly enough it's not though, as I guess in this version's universe, Robin of Locksley just wears very contemporary looking clothing. 

It's directed by Otto Bathurst, who previously worked strictly in TV. I'm getting a strong King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword odor from this film, and that ain't good. I think it'll be lucky if it makes $40 to $50 million here.

Anna And The Apocalypse
A British Xmas zombie musical, in which a girl named Anna has to save her town of Little Haven from hordes of the undead.Premieres November 30.

The film actually premiered overseas in 2017, and is just now getting U.S. distribution. It's directed by John McPhail, who's done nothing you've ever heard of.

This is obviously an indie film that's getting a wide release, so there's no way in hell it'll be a blockbuster. I would be very surprised if it makes $30 to $40 million. In fact it'll probably be less.

December

Mortal Engines
In a post apocalyptic world of mobile cities that travel the landscape looking for resources, young Hester Shaw seeks revenge on the man who killed her mother. Based on the YA novel by Philip Reeve. Premieres December 14.

The trailer certainly LOOKS good, I'll give it that. The world of the movie seems pretty contrived though, and it looks like a standard "rebels against the establishment" story that's been done a billion times before.

It's written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson, the team who brought us The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Fifteen years ago I'd have said that was great news, but they're also the same people who wrote King Kong and The Hobbit films, so... 

It's directed by Christian Rivers, who's worked as a storyboard artist for Peter Jackson for over two decades. This is his directorial debut, which also doesn't fill me with confidence.

The Mortal Engines property isn't anywhere near as well known as Tolkien's works, so I think we'll have another The Lovely Bones situation on our hands. It's gonna gross $80 to $100 million in the States. If that!

Mary Poppins Returns
A sequel to the 1964 classic, which tells the tale of the now adult Michael Banks and his children, who are visited by practically perfect nanny Mary Poppins. Premieres December 19.

The film stars Emily Blunt as Mary and Broadway darling Lin-Manuel Miranda as Diversity, er, I mean Jack. Amazingly, Dick Van Dyke has a cameo role in the film, which could be fun. I couldn't possibly care less about this film, but I have a feeling millions will, and it's gonna be another monster hit for Disney. I think it'll likely make $200 to $250 million here.

Aquaman
For some reason, Warner Bros. hopes it can save its DC Extended Universe by making a goddamned Aquaman movie. Excuse me while I laugh uncontrollably. Premieres December 21.

The film's directed by James Wan, who helmed such pictures as Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring. This of course makes him the perfect choice to direct a superhero film. He also directed Furious 7 though, so I guess he understands how to shoot action.

The trailer's definitely impressive, as it makes it look like the most expensive movie ever made. Sadly, I just don't think the general public cares enough about a C-list character like Aquaman to turn out in droves. Additionally, the film has a $160 million budget, which means it's gonna need to gross $320 million just to break even. Sorry, WB, but that isn't going to happen. 

Justice League only made $229 million domestically, which I find shocking. If DC's version of the Avengers couldn't pull in more than that, there's no way Aquaman will. I think it'll make $120 to $150 million here.

Bumblebee
A prequel (oh god) to the execrable Transformers films. Set in 1987, Bumblebee the friendly Autobot is befriended by a teenage girl named Charlie, because girl power. Premieres December 21.

The fact that the producers included a female character named "Charlie" in a Transformers film because they somehow think that makes a feminist statement makes me want to hunt them down and punch them in the dicks. Or vaginas. Whatever they have.

It's directed by Travis Knight, who previously helmed Kubo And The Two Strings, a movie that wasn't anywhere near as clever or innovative as it thought it was.

The most recent film, Transformers: The Last Knight, was the lowest grossing entry in the franchise, making just $130 million here. This makes me hopeful that the public is FINALLY, at long last, tiring of these terrible, terrible films. I think this one will perform similarly, grossing $120 to $140 million here. 

Holmes & Watson
Will Farrell and John C. Reilly star as the famous detective duo. Premieres December 21.

I am NOT a Will Ferrell fan, but I'd watch John C. Reilly in just about anything. Their previous collaboration, Step Brothers, grossed $100 million in the States, but became something of a cult classic on home video. I don't think those fans are gonna turn out for this one though, and it'll gross $40 to $60 million here.

Alita: Battle Angel
James Cameron's adaptation of the popular manga series FINALLY makes it to the screen. Premieres December 21.

Cameron's been talking about making this film for a good fifteen years now, which is a bad sign. If the director of two of the highest-grossing films ever can't get a movie made, something must be wrong.

There's been all sorts of controversy surrounding the movie, mostly over the decision to render the cybernetic heroine with comically oversized eyes, to better match the source material. It was originally scheduled for a July release, but was moved back to December (possibly to fix the eye situation). As we all know, any time a movie's delayed for any reason, it's a bad, bad sign.

It's directed by Robert Rodriguez, who I'm sure is able to parrot Cameron's orders almost as if they were his own.

Also, the manga's called Battle Angel Alita. What was the point of altering the film title?

From what I've seen in the trailer, the film looks like a near carbon copy of Ghost In The Shell, and we all know how THAT turned out. This definitely ain't gonna be another Avatar, as I think it's gonna underperform and make $60 to $80 million here. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Happy 100th Birthday To Katherine Johnson!

Happy belated birthday to NASA pioneer Katherine Johnson, who turned 100 on August 26th!

Johnson was an integral part of NASA's early days, and was the subject of the 2017 film Hidden Figures. I wasn't a huge fan of that movie, since, like most biopics, it played VERY fast and loose with the facts. 

That said, I have nothing but respect for Johnson and her many, many achievements. We'd never have made it into outer space without her help. She was responsible for calculating the orbital trajectories of our space capsules, literally figuring them out in her head! Impressive!

Happy 100th, Katherine!

It's All You Can Do (August 2018)

Whew! It's been quite a year so far here in America. We're not even halfway through 2018, and already there've been TWENTY TWO school shootings in which a student was injured or killed. 

I realize how hard it is for our politicians in Washington and the country's Facebook users to constantly have to post their heartfelt responses to these constant tragic events, so I've come to the rescue. Below is my patented new Post School Shooting Thoughts And Prayers Generator! 

Just click one or both of the buttons to express your feelings, hit the submit button and Presto! You're done! It's so easy, it's as if you've done nothing at all!
Post School Shooting Thoughts And Prayers Generator
 Sending thoughts and prayers to the families and loved ones of the victims of this tragic event.

 Now is not the time to discuss meaningful gun control legislation.



That's it! You've literally done all you can do.

Flagged Post (August 2018)

I've posted this many times now, and I'm going to keep doing it until something changes. Which will be never.

DATELINE: Cleveland, Ohio–– In response to overwhelming consumer demand, this week the American Association Of Decorative Hardware And Fixtures announced it's making a fundamental design change in all flagpoles. Beginning immediately, all poles manufactured in America will be designed to display flags at half mast only.

Sid Silverbaum, President of the Association, said, "We got a lot of feedback from various groundskeepers, patriots and elderly veterans from around the country, all of whom are exhausted from constantly having to trudge out to their poles and lower their flags to half mast every two to three days. Frankly it just doesn't make sense to make poles that display flags all the way at the top anymore."

According to Silverbaum, the new Half-Master® brand poles will be in stores by the end of the year, just in time for the latest mass shooting or Independence Day, whichever comes first.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Pass, Movie

DATELINE: New York City 
In a press conference today, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe announced yet another change to the beleaguered company's movie subscription plan.

Starting this weekend, MoviePass will no longer allow users to actually see films in the theater. Instead, a company representative will now call up each subscriber on their phone and DESCRIBE the film of their choice to them. Under this new plan, users will be able to choose up to three descriptions per month.

Lowe assured customers that this change wouldn't affect the monthly subscription fee of $9.95, and that "it would enhance the movie-going experience."

It's Official— We're A Nation Of Pussies!

This week New Line Cinema studio caused an uproar with a teaser trailer to its upcoming new horror film The Nun. The prequel tells the origin of Valak, the demonic nun from The Conjuring 2.

The trailer's similar to those internet videos that were all the rage ten or fifteen years ago. You remember how they worked someone would send you what appeared to be a funny dog or cat video, and while you were watching, suddenly a scary face would appear on the screen and shriek.


This new The Nun trailer which is all of seven seconds long is similar to those earlier ones.

It starts out with a black screen, and what appears to be a volume control being adjusted for some reason (?).

Then at the six second mark, this screaming face of the titular Nun pops up. That's it! That's all there is to it!

Apparently this horrific abomination is the most terrifying thing modern YouTubers have ever seen, and has caused many a pair of pants to be soiled.

Here's just a sampling of their complaints about the trailer:

Jesus wept.

These dainty pantywaists were so distressed and traumatized by the trailer they began voicing their outrage to YouTube. They agreed that it was too scary (!!!) and pulled the trailer.

So it's come to this. We've somehow become a society of milksops who're so delicate and fragile that we can't handle someone popping up and shouting, "BOO!" 

If these pantywaists can't handle a simple little YouTube video, they're really gonna crumple into a ball when their boss yells at them for screwing up a report or missing a deadline.

The Pussification of America is now complete. Well done, Helicopter Parents!

Any day I fully expect to see a mother lose custody of her child for buying them a Jack-In-The Box, a husband arrested for putting on a mask and scaring his wife and an uncle fined for asking his nephew to pull his finger.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

It Came From The Cineplex: Slender Man

Slender Man was "written" by David Birke, and "directed" by Sylvain White.

Birke previously wrote Dark Town, Freeway Killer, 13 Sins and Elle. He co-wrote Gacy, and was an uncredited screenwriter on Dahmer. If you need someone to write a mediocre film about a serial killer, then Birke's your man!

White's had a similarly mediocre career, as he previously directed I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, Stomp The Yard (!), The Losers and The Mark Of The Angels- Miserere.


There's also a credit stating that the character of Slender Man was created by Victor Surge. More on that in a bit.

So how is it? Ehhhhh... (sound of my soul escaping from my body). I can't remember the last time I was so bored by a movie. Normally if I see someone diddling with their phone in a darkened theater I feel like beating them with a sock full of Hot Wheels cars. That said, I came reeeeally close to taking out my own phone and playing Scrabble during Slender Man. It's that dull.

The "real life" story of Slender Man is far more interesting and entertaining than anything in this misfire of a film.


Back in 2009, Victor Surge (aka Eric Knudson) was playing around and Photoshopped a lanky spectral demon wearing a suit into several pictures, coining him "Slender Man". He posted the images on the Something Awful site, and they immediately struck a chord with the internet.

It wasn't long before others began mocking up their own Slender Man photos, as well as creating a whole mythology for him. The character began taking on a life of its own, far beyond its simple beginnings.

Tragedy struck in 2014, when two twelve year old girls from Wisconsin lured their friend into the woods and brutally stabbed her NINETEEN times, leaving her for dead. Fortunately the victim somehow managed to survive. Her attackers were arrested, and when asked why they did it, they said "Slender Man told them to." The two were placed in psychiatric institutions and remain there to this day.

Suddenly trying to scare people by making up stories about Slender Man wasn't quite as much fun as it used to be.

For some reason, Hollywood waited a full NINE years before deciding to make a movie based on the Slender Man meme. Jesus Christ, that's like a century in internet years! Maybe if they's struck back when the iron was hot, they might have had something, but nine years later? Who the hell cares about Slender Man?

Shortly after the trailer was released, the father of one of the one of the institutionalized girls claimed the movie was exploiting his daughter's tragedy. He needn't have worried. The Slender Man movie goes to great lengths to avoid any and all references to the stabbing, which is probably a good idea. 

Unfortunately the producers throw out the baby with the bath water, as they don't use ANY of the previously established ideas and mythology. We're then left with an incredibly muddled film with a vaguely defined monster whose motives and powers are nebulous at best.

Slender Man was originally slated for a May 2018 release, but was pushed back to August. As readers of Bob Canada's BlogWorld know all too well, any time a movie's delayed for any reason, it's always a bad, bad sign.

Against all logic and reason, Slender Man has grossed $21 million against its minuscule $10 million budget.


Due to marketing and other hidden costs, modern movies generally need to gross twice their production budget just to break even. That rule doesn't apply here though, as Sony knew they had a dog on their hands and spent little or nothing to promote the film. That means the movie easily made back its budget, and turned a tidy little profit to boot, which sickens me to my core.

SPOILERS, I GUESS.

The "Plot:"
Hallie, Chloe, Katie and Wren (played by Joey King— the only recognizable face in the film) are four typical teens living in a sleepy small town. The movie subjects us to four hours of grating introductory banter between the girls as they joke around and natter incessantly to one another. OK, maybe it just seemed like hours. 

Between classes the gals take time to ogle a pack of popular guys, including Todd, the object of Hallie's desire (PLOT POINT, sort of). Wren overhears the guys discussing an upcoming party, where they plan on summoning the supernatural entity "Slender Man" for fun.

That night, Hallie and the others hang out in Katie's house, careful not to wake her perpetually drunken father. Wren brings up Slender Man, and suggests they try to summon him as well. The others are reluctant to try, but Wren's insistent for no good reason. She even finds a Slender Man website, complete with a helpful video explaining how to invoke him.

Wren hits the play button, and the girls watch the video, which looks like a combination of Un Chien Andalou and tape from The Ring. After it stops, the girls sit staring blankly into space for several minutes (just like the audience!).

The next day (or a week later, there's no way to tell), the girls go on a school field trip to a famous local cemetery (?). As the class trudges through the brush, Katie lags behind and begins staring intently into the woods. She hears strange voices and peers intently into the trees at something only she can see. Eventually the other girls realize she's no longer beside them, and when they turn around, Katie's nowhere to be found. GASP!

The police arrive and question the students for several hours, but no one saw what happened to Katie. The town mounts a massive search, but finds no trace of her.

Some time later, Hallie, Chloe and Wren sneak into Katie's house, hoping to find a clue as to her whereabouts. They search her room, find her laptop and take it back to Hallie's house. There they fire up the laptop, and discover that Katie was active on a Slender Man message board. They're stunned when they read a post in which she said she wanted to be taken by him. Wren contacts a member of the board, who tells her how to contact Slender Man and get Katie back.

That night (or days later
 again, it's impossible to tell), the three girls enter the woods where Katie disappeared. Per the website instructions, they each bring an item that's dear to them, as an offering to Slender Man in exchange for Katie. Wren passes out blindfolds, warning the girls not to look at Slender Man's blank "face." If they do, they'll be driven mad and die. Or something.

The girls blindfold themselves and take turns destroying their offerings. Right on cue, they hear three bells in the distance, which heralds Slender Man's arrival. As the third bell sounds, they hear him sneaking around behind them. In the hands of a talented director, this could have been a legitimately terrifying scene. Sadly, it's shot with all the tension of woman folding clothes at the laundromat.

Chloe panics and whips off her blindfold, accidentally looking the demon right in his blank face. She immediately runs screaming into the woods, as Slender Man disappears. Hallie and Wren search the forest and eventually find Chloe, who seems oddly distant. It's implied that her encounter with Slender Man has rendered her stoic and unemotional, but the acting in this movie's so bad it's impossible to tell any difference.

That night (I guess?), Chloe's home alone. Suddenly Slender Man enters her home, gliding through the house to her room. He begins choking her, but she glances in the mirror and sees she actually choking herself. She lets out a blood-curdling scream, and promptly disappears from the movie.

I cannot emphasize this enough that's the last time we see the Chloe character. Was she driven insane from her glimpse at Slender Man's face? Did he take her? Did she die? Apparently it's none of our concern.

Todd then decides it's the absolute best time to ask Hallie for a date. Despite the fact that two of her friends were just abducted by a supernatural entity, she happily accepts. For some reason she then walks to Todd's house instead of him picking her up. 

During their obligatory make-out session, she begins hallucinating that Todd's turning into Slender Man (I think). She screams and throws him off her. When Todd says what the hell, she explains that she and her friends watched the Slender Man video, and now all hell's breaking loose. She makes him promise not to watch the video too, even though it's clear he wasn't planning on it.

Wren goes to the library, which is still a thing in horror movies, and searches the internet for info on supernatural phenomenon. She then finds a book about electromagnetic entities or something, which says such beings can disrupt phones and TVs as they abduct people— usually children. Suddenly Wren sees Slender Man in the library, and he chases her through the aisles and steals her face (!). Of course this turns out to be another hallucination, and she runs screaming from the library.

Back at Hallie's house, her younger sister Lizzie has a major panic attack, screaming "He had no face!" or something like that. She's taken to the hospital and sedated. Hallie looks through Lizzie's phone, hoping to find the reason for her attack. She discovers that Wren contacted Hallie and got her to watch the Slender Man video, which triggered her attack.

Furious, Hallie storms off to Wren's house to confront her. She's shocked when she sees Wren on the roof, ready to jump. Hallie pulls her back in and asks why she made Lizzie watch the video. Wren says she hoped that by offering some new blood to Slender Man, he'd stop harassing the original group (I guess?). She says it didn't work though, as he only wants the four of them. Wren's then taken by Slender Man, right in front of Hallie's eyes.

Hallie realizes the only way to save Lizzie is to offer herself to Slender Man. She walks into the woods and calls for him. Just like that he appears, and apparently causes her to meld into a tree for some reason. Is this what happened to Katie and the others? We'll never know.

With the four girls dead or taken or whatever, Slender Man's satisfied and releases his hold on Lizzie. She makes a full recovery, and the movie ends with her voiceover warning people that Slender Man's like a virus that's spread by passing on his legend, so just say no to his video and this movie.

Thoughts:

Slender Man is another damnable PG-13 movie, which means there's no blood, no gore, and worst of all, no scares. In order to artificially generate fright, the filmmakers resort to their old standby, the jump scare. I counted at least four of them during the movie, and sat rock-still through them all. 

When are directors gonna learn that jump scares just don't work, and aren't a substitute for actual terror?

 Welp, Sony's interminable losing streak continues! I give my former employers a lot of crap on this site, but it's well and truly deserved. Their films are consistently terrible, and I honestly don't know how their studio arm manages to stay in business.

Don't believe me? Here's just a sampling of their gawd-awful output from the past few years:

The Monuments Men • Robocop (2014)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 • 22 Jump Street • Think Like A Man Too
Sex Tape • Fury • The Interview • Chappie • Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Aloha • Pixels • Ricki and the Flash Hotel Transylvania 2 • 
The Walk • Goosebumps • Freaks of Nature • Spectre
The Night Before • The 5th Wave • The Brothers Grimsby
Money Monster • Angry Birds • The Shallows • Ghostbusters 2016
Sausage Party • The Magnificent Seven • Inferno • Passengers
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter • Underworld: Blood Wars
Life • Smurfs: The Lost Village • Rough Night • The Emoji Movie
The Dark Tower • All Saints • Fallen • Flatliners • Demon Hole
Roman J. Israel, Esq • The Star • Peter Rabbit • Paul, Apostle Of Christ

To be fair, they've accidentally released a couple of good to decent films like Baby DriverJumanji: Welcome To The Jungle and Blade Runner 2049, but they're very few and vastly far between.

This image is by far the scariest thing you'll see onscreen during Slender Man!

• It's obvious from the very first frame of Slender Man that there's something seriously wrong with this movie. The storyline is vague and unfocused, subplots are set up and never resolved and there's no clear protagonist. Worst of all, characters are introduced and then disappear from the film with no absolutely no explanation. 

And to top it all off, the movie doesn't end so much as it just stops. I cannot emphasize this enough— this movie doesn't have an ending. It's like they just ran out of film and decided to call it quits then and there.

Once glance at the trailer reveals that great swathes of the movie are missing in action. Apparently Sony was so afraid of upsetting anyone involved in the real world Slender Man case that they cut out anything even remotely scary or provocative from the film.

Slender Man isn't a movie— it's a work print. Sony should be ashamed for releasing HALF a film, and issue refunds to everyone who paid to see the goddamned thing.

Here are just a few of the many elements missing from the theatrical version of Slender Man:

This character, and whatever the hell she's scrawling on the glass, are NOT in the actual movie. At one point in the film, Wren communicates via message board with a girl in a mental institution (who apparently still has access to the internet). She's the one who tells Wren how to summon Slender Man and get Katie back. 

This girl may or may not be that mystery character. If so, I'm betting they cut her out of the film because she's in an institution, just like the real-life girls who tried to murder their friend.

There's also a violent scene involving Chloe that was completely erased from the final film. In it, she's sitting in biology class dissecting a snail or something, when she's suddenly compelled (by Slender Man, no doubt) to raise a scalpel to her face. She stares at it in great distress, and then savagely jams it into her eyeball, spraying her classmates with blood & vitreous goo.

I'm betting she didn't actually stab herself and this was just an hallucination, as Slender Man slowly drives her insane. Not really sure why they'd cut out this scene, since the gore's implied rather than shown.

Then there's this shot, in which a teen boy sort of leans over and falls off a roof, presumably to his death. This has to be Hallie's boyfriend Todd, since he's one of only two males with speaking roles in the entire film (Katie's dad being the other).

Remember how for no good reason, Hallie started begging Todd not to watch the Slender Man video? I'm betting in the original cut he watched it anyway, was driven mad and killed himself.

Of course in the theatrical version, he simply disappears from the movie and is never seen or spoken of again.

Lastly, the trailer ends with this extended scene, in which a nondescript girl is eerily walking through a field. The police arrive and cautiously approach her. We then see a closeup of her bloodied face, as the camera slowly tilts down to her outstretched hands. She's obviously holding something, but whatever it is is so horrifying that we're not allowed to see it.

Again, need I point out that this character is nowhere to be seen in the final film. She kind of looks like the same girl who was scrawling on the window, so I guess it makes sense that they'd cut out this scene of her as well.

That's too bad, as this sequence is very atmospheric and genuinely creepy. In fact the entire two minute trailer is far scarier than the actual movie! Save yourself $8 and just watch the trailer a couple of times.

Slender Man is an incredibly derivative film, as it cribs elements from several much better movies. The most glaring example of this is the online video the girls watch to summon the titular character.

As mentioned in the plot description, this video consists of rapid cuts of deliberately unsettling images that look like they were lifted directly from Un Chien Andalou and The Ring

A helpful tip to any would-be directors out there— it's never a good idea to remind the audience of way BETTER films they could be watching.

• Credit where it's due: there are a few genuinely creepy and haunting images in Slender Man. Many of the girls' hallucinations have a surreal, dreamlike quality to them, and the brief glimpses of the titular character standing ominously in the woods are spooky and unsettling. 

There's also a great scene in which Slender Man sprouts giant spider legs and chases Hallie through the forest, which actually comes close to being scary.

It's just too bad that these scenes were in service of absolutely NOTHING.

• The only actor you'll likely recognize in Slender Man is Joey King. She's becoming quite the little B-movie Queen, as she's starred in such classics as Battle Los Angeles, Oz The Great And Powerful, The Conjuring, White House Down and Independence Day: Resurgence

She also starred in 2017's Wish Upon, which is actually a pretty good bad movie, and one of the best unintentional comedies I've seen in years. Somebody get this girl an agent transplant, stat!

• Apparently this movie takes place in a universe where no one owns a car. At no time are any of the main characters ever seen driving, as they walk everywhere they want to go.

It's also a world in which every single electronic device is made by Sony. Literally every single laptop, TV and phone is proudly emblazoned with the Sony logo or one of its subsidiaries. 


Seeing their logo once or twice is fine, as it actually adds a bit of realism to the movie. After all, I'd much rather see an actual Sony logo than one that says, "Horizon." But when you spot fifteen of them it becomes obtrusive and obnoxious. It's like a drinking game!

• All good horror movies set up a series of rules for their monsters and then do their best to stick to them. Vampires can't stand sunlight. Werewolves are allergic to silver. Zombies can only be stopped by a head shot. Freddie Krueger can only harm you in your dreams. And on and on.

Slender Man attempts to set up its own mythology as well, but of course it fails miserably. It's all very muddled and contradictory, and feels like they cribbed random elements from other films and haphazardly mashed them together, hoping it'd all somehow make sense.

They even use the same "The More You Think About Him The Stronger He Gets" trope from The Bye Bye Man! Folks, when you start stealing from a bottom of the barrel movie like that, then you know your film is in trouble.

Here're just a sampling of Slender Man's nonsensical mythology:

— The girls are warned to never look directly at Slender Man's face, or they'll either die or be driven mad. Seconds later, Chloe looks directly at him, immediately goes nuts and runs screaming into the woods.

Thing is, the other girls looked at him right after Chloe did, but nothing happens to them. So why not? Did they not look at him long enough or something? Do they need to stare intently at him for thirty seconds for his curse to work?

Plus, how the hell do you look at someone's face when they don't have one?

— The girls first summon Slender Man by watching an online video. Yet when Wren researches him, she finds out he and other "electromagnetic beings" like him have been taking people for centuries.

So how did people conjure him before the internet was invented? Watch a 16mm film? Tell spooky campfire stories? Read an illuminated manuscript?

— Slender Man's quite the dapper demonic presence, as he's dressed in a smartly tailored suit and tie. As Wren discovers, he's actually been around for years. So does his outfit change to correspond to current fashion trends? Did he wear a double breasted suit in the 1940s? A stovepipe hat in the 1800s? A waistcoat and leggings in Colonial times?

— Most importantly of all, what exactly does Slender Man do with his victims? At the end of the movie it looks like he causes Hallie to sort of turn into a tree. Is that what happened to Katie, and all his other victims as well?

That could actually be terrifying, as it'd mean every tree in a forest used to be a person! Of course the movie can't be bothered to actually tell us if that's what's happening, leaving the fate of the victims vague and unresolved.

• After Katie disappears, Hallie and the other girls decide to sneak into her house and search for clues. First they peer through the window and see Katie's Dad passed out on the couch in a drunken stupor. One of the girls mentions how he always leaves the back door unlocked, in case Katie would come home late.

One would think they'd simply sneak in the back while Dad was blissfully unconscious, right? Wrong. Wren actually knocks on the goddamned door and wakes him up! When he stumbles to the door, she distracts him while the other two nimrods sneak upstairs.

Why the hell did they wake him up? They could have been in and out and he'd never have known! Was this some lame attempt at artificially generating suspense, to keep the audience from dozing off?


• Even though one of Hallie's friends has disappeared and another driven insane or something, she decides it's the perfect time to go on a date with her crush Todd. Hey, she ain't getting any younger, so she's gotta move on and find herself a man, right?

Anyway, this date is chock full of inexplicable and hilarious moments. First of all, 
she WALKS to Todd's house and apologizes for being late, saying she had trouble finding his house in the dark. Um... I'm no expert on dating, but isn't it traditional for the guy to drive to the girl's house and pick her up? What kind of guy expects his date to walk to his house?

Once there, Hallie's surprised to learn that Todd's parents are out for the evening, leaving the two of them alone in the house. Wha...? Did she really think she was going to spend an evening wedged on the couch with Todd and his parents?

Lastly, Todd decides to put on some music to set the mood for their makeout session. Instead of playing a CD or streaming music from his phone like a teen from this century, he actually fires up his parents' record player and puts on a scratchy old album! What. The. Hell. This is what happens when you let a middle aged man write your teen horror movie.

• Pretty much every online review has already pointed this out, but it's still worth a mention: At one point Wren actually says that Slender Man is like a computer virus that gets inside your brain and infects it. So... he's just like a virus then. See, Wren, we had regular old organic viruses long before we had computer ones.

• In the past twenty years or so I've seen more terrible horror films than I can count. Amazingly, nearly all of them have one thing in common
 a scene in which the main character has to physically trudge to the library to research the monster that's plaguing them. Because that's totally a thing that teenagers do in the 21st Century, right?

Originally these "Library Scenes" would show characters lugging a large stack of books to a table, or staring at a small projector as they scrolled through tons of microfiche files.

Thanks to the internet, those forms of data storage are now obsolete. Today we all have a hand-held device that contains the contents of literally every library in the world! 

But for some strange reason, movies STILL insist on showing characters going to the library to do research! Why? Why can't they stay home and google Krampus, Bagul or Pazuzu on their laptop or phone?

It's like all these middle-aged screenwriters remember those research scenes from the movies of their youth, and feel compelled to include them in their films. To their credit, they seem aware that google's replaced microfiche, but they don't seem to understand that one no longer needs to trek to the library to look up a fact.

 This scene from the film perfectly captures the way audiences should react the instant they realize they're watching a Sony movie.

Slender Man is a terrible "horror" film with no scares, no characters and worst of all, no plot. It's an incomplete work print of a film, one that was obviously butchered in editing as Sony cut out everything even remotely frightening, so as not to offend anyone. Too bad they didn't cut out the ENTIRE movie while they were at it. It's not even a "good" bad movie, it's just plain bad. Save yourself some cash and watch the trailer instead, as it contains more scares than the actual film. I give it a well-deserved D.

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