Horrortoberfest ’18 Day 30 – Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story (2015)

I was one of those people that watched the Marble Hornets YouTube series back when it first started up and got into the whole mystery and lore of it. Then Slenderman really blew up and became the internet sensation that he is today and it lost some of the magic of being a little nerdy internet thing. I did appreciate a lot of the Marble Hornets story in the beginning before it went off the rails and I was hoping that maybe being a film and more focused would help things stay more coherent.

The plot of the movie centers around a local news team that finds a bunch of old video camera tapes while on a story about foreclosed houses. The tapes show a happy family that is seemingly being stalked by a guy in a suit. As they dig deeper into what happened to the missing family; they begin to see the same figure stalking them in their own footage. Now it isn’t just about finding them for a story but also to see if there was any way they could rid themselves of the supernatural menace. Turns out that there really isn’t outside of dying or almost dying.

One of the things that I appreciate about this rendition of Slenderman, unlike the other movie that we’ve reviewed on the podcast, is that it remains this aloof thing that watches instead of attacks. Slenderman isn’t going to get you by choking you out or stabbing you or whatever. He just sort of hangs out and then you go crazy. You can’t see him normally but he shows up on camera and it’s kind of implied that the obsession with watching him makes him more obsessed with you but if you turn off the camera then you don’t know where he is. It’s a fun little way to make a self-reinforcing paranoia loop for the characters.

While I don’t generally love the found footage style; you pretty much have to do it if you’re going to make a Marble Hornets film. While everything we see is from various cameras’ points of view, it isn’t always going for a “these are the tapes that were found after the events” style, which means we occasionally get views from security cameras or other places. This helps keep things from getting too stale and entirely from one singular perspective. As well, the audio/visual tearing in the recordings that accompany the appearance of Slenderman make for both a tension adder much like the theme from Jaws did for its movie and also replaces the use of screechy violins for jump scares. While certainly not perfect, I think that the way the format was used enhanced the story rather than it just being there for budget reasons or because it was fashionable.

I think this probably the best of the various Slenderman focused movies I’ve seen. That being said it still wasn’t amazing and I kind of have my doubts as to whether he is a monster that can really translate well to the screen, ironically enough. I’d give the movie an overall 3.5 out of 5.

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