Exactly why I’m so enamored with these Creepypasta yarns is a mystery even to me, but the heart wants what it wants. Within the pathos, the impeccably dressed faceless Slender Man is the character that fascinates me the most, yet who never has been fully featured in a good movie. The eponymous Slender Man is a giant yawn, and The Tall Man – which exists on the peripheral of Creepypasta – is offensively bad. Maybe what the heart wants is something that it should stay away from?
Which brings us to Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story, a found-footage film that starts out promising but soon fizzles out into a big nothing. Here we have Milo (Chris Marquette), a camera operator who, alongside reporter Sara (Alexandra Breckenridge) and producer Charlie (Jack McDorman), is covering a boilerplate story on foreclosures. Going through a house that was abandoned in a hurry, Milo comes across a set of videotapes where a mysterious, otherworldly character (dubbed here as The Operator, portrayed by the great Doug Jones) can be seen stalking in the background. As it dawns on the newscasters that the family fled to escape him, they realize that this slender man has picked them as his next prey.
Now, we could get into questions the movie never asks, the main one being why The Operator is stalking anyone at all. If there is a motive, it is lost on me. It also makes me wonder what The Operator does in his time off when he’s not stalking about. Or is being a killer his hobby? If so, what is his profession? The mind boggles.
That aside, the film does get off on a good foot. Minor details like Milo’s personal video editing equipment being better than what is in the small-time local TV station make the world seem believable. The characters are likable, setting aside that Milo has a history of stalking Sara. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to serve as some parallel with The Operator, so I’ll leave it as a little nugget for you to figure out. Either way: The actors do a commendable job with what they have to work with, particularly Marquette, who often is in scenes by himself. Breckenridge – the only A-level actor in the movie – captures that imitable local-TV reporter effortlessly.
And it’s initially all pretty creepy: The faceless character can only be seen on camera, standing there, staring menacingly (presumably – he doesn’t have eyes). That type of creeping dread gets to me, but Always Watching never ventures past the setup. Struggling to hit the ninety-minute runtime, the writers and director opt to utilize repeated jump scares – one second, The Operator is far away, the next he’s right in the camera’s lens – which gets old quickly. Following the crew trying to track down the missing family during a quiet car ride is dull for the lack of a better word. You would think some spice could be added through the stalker-Milo subplot, but that, too, is soon forgotten about. Part of me feels that the film was based on half a script, but I assume that can’t be the case, seeing how Marble Hornets was a long-running web series.
Had Always Watching been cut down to a sixty-minute feature, I think there would be enough in there to recommend it. As it stands, it quickly runs out of juice. Should you watch it? I mean, it’s free with Prime. Fast forward through the quieter parts of the second half, and it might be worth your time if you are in the mood for something less than exciting.
The original Slender Man!
Way before Creepypasta, there was Phantasm and its Tall Man. The actor, Angus Scrimm, makes a short cameo in Always Watching.
Those Creepypasta films, ranked
- Butterfly Kisses
- The Toll
- 47 Hours to Live
- Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story
- Slender Man
- The Tall Man
Letterboxd summary: A group of student film makers are creating "Project Marble Hornets" when the production is interrupted by a series of paranormal events in this tense and shocking horror.
Ratings from around the web
|One Star Classics||2/6|