Be aware there are some light spoilers for Slender Man.
If you saw Slender Man last weekend, you probably realized you were watching an incomplete movie. Scene transitions often made little sense (my favorite WTF moment was when a girl noted that the cops must have her missing friend’s laptop only for it to suddenly manifest in the next scene,) and character arcs surfaced and disappeared at random. Curious what happened to the supporting characters who fell under Slender Man’s thrall? Well tough stuff, buddy, they’re going to disappear at random mid-way through the film.
So it shouldn’t come as much surprise that Bloody Disgusting is reporting the film was heavily cut down by the time it reached theaters. According to the report, Sony Screen Gems never really got behind Slender Man, which was originally intended to be much darker than the film that hit theaters. While the script was always intended to appeal to a teen audience, word is Screen Gems mandated a PG-13 rating and reworked from David Birke’s original script heading into production. But it didn’t stop there, and as the film neared theatrical release, the studio clipped the film’s violent content over fears of public backlash.
BD cites anonymous sources that say “several major scenes” were removed from the film, and that the studio’s fears sparked up after the father of one of the girls involved in the 2014 Slender Man stabbing criticized the film for being “extremely distasteful” and “popularizing a tragedy.” As I mentioned, it’s pretty obvious that the final product is incomplete, and you don’t have to look very far to see some of what was cut. The first trailer included two scenes of mutilation — a student gouging out her eyes and a girl stumbling out of the woods with blood running out of her mouth — neither of which are seen in the final film.
This isn’t the first time the Screen Gems/Slender Man drama has hit the public eye. At the end of May, only a matter of weeks before the film’s scheduled theatrical release, Variety reported that the studio was shopping the film to other distributors after clashing with producers over Slender Man’s commercial viability. Ultimately, no buyer was found and Screen Gems proceeded towards Slender Man’s scheduled release date, serving up the toned down version of the film that hit theaters.
Whether or not Slender Man would have ever been a breakout hit is a mystery lost to the sands of time — after all, the character’s heyday was nearly ten years ago and interest in the figure fizzled out significantly after he became entangled in real-life tragedy — but the film’s decent box office performance (despite terrible reviews and word of mouth) suggests there was still an audience for it. Unfortunately, it sounds like the approach was biffed by the studio just about every step of the way. There’s a way to make a scary, relevant, and even respectful horror movie with something to say about the creation of myth and the power of belief, but that’s not the movie we got. Who knows if the original cut would have been any better, but maybe the Blu-ray release will hold some answers. For now, you can get a glimpse at some of the cut scenes in the trailer below.
What do you guys think? Would you have rather seen the uncut version? Do you think the studio made a wise decision when they cut the violence? Was this movie ever going to work? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts.