A common criticism of Tribe Twelve is that it steals rather heavily from Marble Hornets, and that’s not an invalid point of view. The visual style choice of white text on a black background providing narration and the characters (the missing/dead friend, the cameraman, the mysterious person who posts odd videos and may or may not be an aggressor) are very similar, and even some of the individual scenes are similar (I’m looking at you, playground scene). While Tribe Twelve does seem to be moving away from this resemblance, it takes a lot away from the series, especially in the early episodes.
The strongest part of Tribe Twelve is undoubtedly the effects. Of the three most famous vlogs, it is the only one to contain actual moving tentacles when the Slender Man shows up, and the effect is incredibly unsettling. The suspense in certain moments can be handled extremely well- the Observer videos being a great example of this, especially the one in XXXX, where the rising note in the background set an ominous and frantic mood matched by the last distorted shot of someone running up a flight of stairs. HELLOTHERE is one of the elegantly done single videos I’ve seen so far.
Unfortunately, the acting in the series is…subpar. So far none of the actors in the series have been very believable, and their delivery often comes off as very flat or very over-the-top. It’s especially noticeable in the stilted dialogue of the most recent Thanksgiving episodes. No one sounds like a real human being. Noah’s conversations with Sarah, her friend, and her father are just bizarre, running the gamut from obvious line reading to over-written dialogue, to completely unbelievable social interaction.
This is extremely jarring in scenes that are supposed to be frightening- for example, in the aforementioned Thanksgiving episodes, Noah covered in blood and laughing was obviously supposed to be unnerving at least, but his overacting made the whole thing somewhat laughable. Similarly, Night Recordings goes from pure creepiness (the footage of the pool and the lightning) to ridiculous as soon as Noah wakes up and starts stabbing bushes.
The series also seems rather disjointed, as if Noah is just throwing in whatever he thinks is scary. So far there’s been little follow-up on Karl, the items in the box, Noah’s nosebleeds, and although the thanksgiving footage was posted recently, in linear continuity nothing’s been said about it since (that means it’s been almost 3 months without any kind of backlash from Noah’s bloody midnight shenanigans). The only thing Noah’s followed up on is the disappearance of Milo’s mom. This is getting a little better, and I know it’s dangerous to say “they’re not resolving anything” with a continuing series like this, I do think it’s important to follow up on the various plot threads, if only to make sure viewers remember they exist.
Overall, the series is…well, let’s say a solid C. There are some who absolutely love the series, and some who hate it. I personally am somewhere between the two camps, although I have to admit some of my enjoyment of the series is in making fun of the dialogue. The effects don’t quite make up for the acting and writing, but it’s still a genuinely frightening series, and the suspense is handled reasonably well within individual episodes. It’s about even with most slender-fare: Not much better, but you could certainly do a lot worse.
So far, Tribe Twelve hasn’t advanced any startlingly new ideas about the Slender Man mythos. They seem to be sticking close to established canon (or whatever we can call canon in a mythos like this) and their resident proxy, the Observer, doesn’t really deviate from standard behavior either.
The fan theories, however, are where things get good. TvTropes’ Wild Mass Guessing page for the series produces one interesting theory- that Milo is in fact still alive, and is the Observer. I’m not sure it’s entirely feasible, especially since the glimpses of the Observer that we get in the Thanksgiving footage don’t look anything like Milo, but it’s interesting to think about, isn’t it? It would certainly explain where the Observer got that picture of Milo and Noah from Token Letter.
Another idea that I’ve heard bandied about (I believe it was on Unfiction, but I can’t find the specific post so if you know who to credit, let me know) is that Tribe Twelve is the first vlog from the point of view of a proxy who is unaware of what he is. I love this theory. It’s a great idea, one that’s only been done a few times before (as in Walking the Hallowed Halls or What You Are In The Dark) and, even better, if used correctly it could excuse all of the problems with the series. Bad acting? Unrealistic dialogue? Noah doesn’t know how to interact with people like a normal human being anymore. It’s bad acting within the context of the series. His silly performance in “Night Recordings” is because deep down, he knows there’s nothing to be scared of. Complete inability to notice your friend going crazy? Again, Noah’s forgotten how to recognize human emotions. Clues not leading anywhere? Noah doesn’t want them to lead anywhere. He’s screwing with the audience, he never intended to give us any answers. Whatever part of him is Slender Man’s servant, it’s preventing him – and us – from getting any real answers. And with Noah’s blackouts, memory lapses, and midnight wanderings, it’s obvious that he’s not completely in his right mind. Where are Noah’s parents? He killed them, or they don’t exist. Hell, even the long time between updates could be explained in-series: He’s been too busy working for Slendy to post videos.
Any more theories?