The Empty Man
What Happened to The Empty Man? Perceptions may be influenced by The Empty Man’s film development. So, the number of excellent movies that remained on the shelf for years before being released with no marketing or critical screening is extremely small.
This adaptation of the graphic book of the same name is obvious in its flaws, and those flaws are virtually likely to create a cult following around it. This is a much more ambitious and impressive piece of art than its reputation suggests.
David Prior’s film distinguishes itself from the usual Hollywood genre picture by including a 22-minute prologue (even if it does add to the bloated 137 minutes total). The sound is heard exclusively by one of four companions trekking in Bhutan in 1995. It leads to a crevice fall. A buddy rushes down to discover the young guy gazing at a frightening skeleton.
Before he becomes catatonic, he warns him, “If you touch me, you’ll die.” Things become strange when his three friends take him to a neighboring cottage. While the prologue of “The Empty Man” is excessive for a movie that’s already fairly lengthy, it’s an excellent short film on its own and sets the scene well in terms of tone.
Cut to the chase in Missouri in 2018. James Lasombra (James Badge Dale) is alone on his birthday. James now lives with the pain of losing his wife and kids in a vehicle accident.
A neighbor called Nora (Marin Ireland) comes to James after her daughter Amanda (Sasha Frolova) disappears. The inquiry appears half-hearted since Amanda is over 18 and can do anything she wants, but James can see there’s more to it than that.
This is the first night. Next night you’ll see him. This is the third night. The Empty Man indeed owes a lot to other tales like Bloody Mary, Candyman, and Slender Man, but Prior’s film soon evolves into something far weirder when James learns a cult may be involved in all of this (including a leader played by Stephen Root).
Avoids a conventional jump scare structure
The Empty Man avoids a conventional jump scare structure by becoming more bizarre, ultimately connecting back to that prologue in an unexpected manner, and reaching a wild ending that I’m not sure makes a lick of sense.
Another benefit of an episodic format is that it allows some of the film’s numerous themes to develop more naturally. “The Empty Man” loses too much of its mood and horror towards the end.
A 137-minute film can’t sustain a scary tone for that long, but it’s also too short for this tale. Finally, discoveries pile up and distract from the overall tone of impending catastrophe.
But genre aficionados will find enough to enjoy. Anastas N. Michos makes the brilliant snow of the prologue as striking as the gloomy darkness of the last act.
Prior favors mood above jump scares and is a talented filmmaker. He has composition and structural abilities, even though his dialogue is occasionally weak.
Most studios bury films like “The Empty Man” because they’re really terrible and they’re trying to find out how to write off their capital without seeming bad.
Occasionally, a studio abandons a project due to a lack of interest. How do you market a picture like “The Empty Man”? You don’t try. Some audiences discover it on their own. “The Empty Man”?
It’s too early to know how people will react, but I think horror aficionados will be pleasantly pleased.