What the Boogey Man, Bloody Mary or the classic Ouija Board was to you as a kid, Slender Man no doubt will be to the next generation of horror film lovers as the highly anticipated flick hits cinemas today.
But before you embark upon the terrifying journey that is this film, there are a few mental notes that you should take on board, according to Joey King who plays Wren, one of four teenagers terrorised by the slim demon.
Speaking to Pedestrian.TV, the accomplished 19-year-old actress insists that the movie is in no way connected to the two Wisconsin 12-year-olds who lured their friend into the woods in 2014 and stabbed her 19 times in an attempt to impress the fictional Slender Man.
“There’s so much controversy surrounding the film ‘coz people think we’re glorifying and romanticising what happened and I think that it’s super important that it gets out there that this movie has nothing to do with that story, it’s completely fictional,” she says.
“I think I speak for us all when I say that we would never have signed on for something that we deemed inappropriate.”
Here, King shares her experience with working on the bone-chilling flick including the ongoing nightmare she’s had since the film wrapped and the reason why she’s giving the horror genre a break for a while.
Hey Joey! What was your reaction when you first read the script?
Reading the script was awesome, it was creepy and eerie and I think as a fan of Slender Man from when I was a kid [the video game], I was pretty stoked about getting to be part of it.
Were there any spooky experiences on set?
I wasn’t necessarily scared at any moment during filming but every day after filming when I would go to bed I would definitely check my closet and behind every door and make sure Slender Man wasn’t there.
Were there any aspects of the film that surprised you?
One pivot of information that I think is always interesting to share about filming Slender Man is when the actor who played Slender Man would wear his suit, it was so hard for him to breathe in there and it was so claustrophobic so he needed oxygen tubes coming up from under the mask so that he could breathe.
When you watched the movie back, were there any particular scenes where you thought ‘shit, I didn’t realise how scary this was gonna be’?
Yeah, there were so many scenes where I was really impressed with what they did. Julia’s nightmare sequences were so scary and weird. They’re not just scary, they’re so totally disturbing and uncomfortable in this way where you’re like ‘oh my god, this is so weird and creepy’.
While it’s obviously a fantasy-based horror film, I feel like it carries a social message like the idea that people need to be careful of what they come across online. What do you hope people take away from the film?
Like you said, the message of the movie is to be careful what you do on the internet, be careful who you talk to and be careful what information you give out but other than that I think that the message of the movie is just to freak you out.
As a massive fan of the genre, what I loved about the movie was the nods to horror films of the past like the forest vibe was very Blair Witch, the four girls summoning something was like The Craft, the creature coming through the screen was very much like The Ring, etc. Were you conscious of these similarities?
Definitely! What I love so much about this movie is that it’s an homage and a blast to the past while still remaining current and relevant.
How would you say horror films in 2018 differ from past horror films?
The biggest difference is the production value. The storylines and jump scares and things that are classic in horror films will never go away and that’s what people love about them so much but as time goes on things look more and more real and they’re less cheesy like when someone got stabbed in a horror movie they’d be spewing fake blood that looks like ketchup and nowadays there are some really crafty and inventive ways to make it look more real.
King in The Conjuring (2013)
This certainly isn’t your first rodeo as you previously starred in The Conjuring, what attracted you to the horror film genre?
What I love so much about the horror film genre is the audience members. I think that people have the coolest reactions and being able to feed a reaction is super special.
Growing up, what were your favourite horror films?
I wasn’t allowed to watch horror films when I was a kid because I watched one when I was five years old, it just happened to be on when I was eating macaroni and cheese, and it just scarred me for life and after that my mum was like ‘No more until you’re older!’
Do you remember what movie it was?
I don’t know! It was honestly some really tacky, stupid horror movie and I remember this one scene that really freaked me out: this woman was in the kitchen and all the cabinets were closed and then she exited the kitchen for something and then she came back and all of the cabinets were open and that just got me.
And cut to x amount of years later and here you are, a part of the horror film genre. Life, right?
You do such a great job of projecting fear and making it look like you’re genuinely terrified, does it take a toll on you?
It does take an emotional toll but at the same it’s really really fun. Shooting that library scene with Slender Man was one of the most fun and mentally exhausting days on set that I’ve ever had. Ultimately, it’s so much fun but yes, it’s very exhausting.
Do you see yourself sticking with the horror film genre in future?
I personally love the horror genre but I think I’ll take a little bit of a break because mentally these movies are taking a bit of a toll on me. I am so scared, I have to sleep with the lights on when I go home. As much as I love the horror genre, I’m definitely looking forward to my other films coming out later this year that aren’t horror.
Slender Man is in cinemas now.