You don’t have to know what @marblehornets is or when understand what exactly Slender Man represents to enjoy 92 intense minutes of found footage/POV excitement.
It goes down like this – The Operator (also known as Slender Man in some circles) is a creature that can only be seen through a camera lens, and once you’ve seen it, your days are numbered. First you’ll disappear, and if you’re ever found it’ll be among self-inflicted wreckage.
Milo (Chris Marquette) is a cameraman for a small local television station. He views life through a camera lens, because it’s his job, and it’s an excellent way to visually stalk “the one that got away”, news reporter and colleague, Sara (Alexandra Breckenridge). Doing a story on the rising number of foreclosures and the lives it impacts, you know, the usual human interest filler piece, they uncover a house that resembles the Mary Celeste. Not literally, but the occupants abandoned ship in a hurry leaving behind video tapes and a camera. Sara believes she can create a real investigative piece on the missing people, maybe shake the boring dust of her sleepy town off her heels. Milo, always looking to get a little closer to Sara by agreeing to everything she suggests, sifts through the tapes and accidentally discovers the signs and sigils of a tall faceless figure in a black suit, known only as The Operator (Doug Jones), letting it into his life and into the lives of Sara and producer Charlie (Jake McDorman). The Operator is relentless in its pursuit, creating paranoia, chunks of missing time, and ultimately madness. Milo and friends race to find the former occupants, to uncover how (if) they can be rid of The Operator once and for all.
For backstory, @Marblehornets is the actual Twitter account/YouTube series of Jay and Alex who set out to make a movie in 2009 and stumbled upon The Operator instead. When Alex disappears, Jay sifts through their dailies and location shoots to see if there are any clues and finds much, much worse in a series of very short videos and tweets spanning 92 episodes. If you have the time and need to be badly creeped out, it’s well worth several afternoons – or one very long evening. It’s from this series, that Always Watching was born, and it’s a a separate tale in the same Operator/Slender Man Universe.
I hadn’t known this movie was even available until I was trolling my usual spots for new movie offerings, but sadly, it’s not surprising the release was buried. With the recent cases of tweens and teens using this fakelore version of the Boogeyman as an excuse to bully, maim and kill, pushing a horror movie based on that very Boogeyman could seem like tasteless capitalizing on tragedy. Instead was released quietly to VOD. It’s really a fun little movie and for fans of the SM mythology, it beats trolling through badly worded “encounters” on Creepypasta/Reddit/Something Awful.
This is a top-notch cast for a movie that began as a wee internet tale. Alexandra Breckenridge was in two seasons of American Horror Story as well as The Walking Dead, Jake McDorman stars in the CBS series, Limitless, and the titular Doug Jones is recognizable creepy no matter what he does. Chris Marquette is no slouch either, appearing among other things in The Rite with Anthony Hopkins and Freddy vs Jason. Always Watching may not be the edge of your seat horror hardcore fans of the genre crave, but for casual fans in need of some Saturday afternoon viewing, this movie is a winner.
Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story is available on select VOD platforms.