Had it not been for recent headlines I would have no idea what Slenderman is. Outside of making preteen girls do terribly awful things to each, I was still pretty fuzzy on exactly what he was. Of course I googled it and got some shit about a creepy pasta, but that just made me more confused and a little hungry. So I gave up my search for Slenderman, but to be fair it wasn’t much of a search and more of a distraction from endless hours of twerk videos and that GIF of the super cute Pomeranian sneezing. Then one day a screener for Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story came across my lap. And I gotta be honest, I still have no idea what Slender man is, but did get to watch a creepy little flick. Damn those cute fuzzy twerk videos! One day my quest to figure out what Slenderman is won’t be detoured by tasty pasta!
A trio of reporters are sent to do a story on a family that just up and vanished without so much as a Facebook post saying adios. After convincing the landlord to let them snoop around the vacated house and search for clues, they stumble onto a hidden box of home videos (which is always nothing but family video and never anything sinister…) and soon discover that maybe these tapes were hidden for a reason. Not long after playing the tapes the trio discovers the family had admirer (who in the press release is dubbed the operator, but is never once referenced by this in the movie) who always seemed to be watching (The title now makes sense to me!). It isn’t long before they figure out just what (or who) that family was running from and now are on the run themselves from this faceless being who always seems to be right behind them.
Marble Hornet’s is an ongoing YouTube series and word has it it is extremely successful. So successful they got a movie out of it. I have never seen the Youtube series ( mostly because it involves zero twerking…), I will admit after spending 90 minutes with this story (which I imagine is only a fraction of what the web series has to offer) I am intrigued. The Operator is a great on-screen villain and creepy a hell. Lurking in the shadows and just out of focus, whenever he is on-screen it made my skin crawl. Apparently, The Operator is Slenderman, but after a bunch of tweens started torturing/murdering each other, the powers that be decided to drop the “Slenderman” name and that was a smart move. Last thing anyone wants is to be the reason a bunch of Bieber fans are stabbing each other. Aside from the fact that they are Bieber fans, that seems to be reason enough to stab each other.
My major complaint, and even a really cool antagonist couldn’t save this, was the film is found footage. God I hate found footage and I know that statement isn’t anything new. I will say at least they had a great reason for the cameras to roll. The only way to see The Operator is through the camera. That helps nail the whole, “Why are they still filming” question that normally plagues found footage movies. This helps the movie flow. Sadly, the love triangle, that was attempted goes nowhere and just bogs down the plot. Building Milo (Chris Marquette) up as a creepy stalker and then turning him into a love-sick underdog, felt pointless and a wasted subplot. Nothing against the actors, the all do a great job and deliver believable performances. Just seemed like a wasted opportunity.
Anchor Bay has released a bare bones DVD. With a nonexistent special features, it’s a disappointing release, but comes with a slick-looking slipcase. You would think Anchor Bay would have added one or two extras to add a few bangs for your buck. Maybe they felt the movie itself was enough, but as a movie collector I will say that always sucks.
Always Watching: A Marble Hornet’s Story in no way help my quest to figure out what Slenderman is. BUT it did delivery an unnerving and interesting flick that, although, didn’t answer what Slenderman is, did help intensify my obsession with him from, mild curiosity to full-blown obsession. I guess this is less of a review and more of a warning to my friends…