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Home > The Empty Man (2020): A Review

The Empty Man (2020): A Review

The Empty Man

The Empty Man Made Me Do It

The Empty Man follows an ex-cop on the trail of a missing girl, when he comes across a secretive group attempting to summon a terrifying supernatural entity. 

This film is an interesting experience and not at all what I expected. It definitely leans more into mystery thriller territory than horror, but it still has many horror elements. The horror falls close to cosmic Lovecraftian horror. 

The Empty Man has an interesting history worth mentioning with how it got made and released. First of all, it is actually based on a series of graphic novels sharing the same name. Also, it was made by first time filmmaker, David Prior who was given the budget to make whatever he wanted. However, because it was one of the last films Fox made before it was bought by Disney, it was pushed back multiple times and intended to be edited down.

This was actually filmed back in 2016-2017 and not released until 2020 during the height of the pandemic. As a result of this, the film was quietly released in a few theaters and made such little money that it was deemed non-profitable and thus took a while to come onto home release. It is likely that Disney did not know what to do with an over two hour long horror film that had been already finished for years. 

I really liked the lore, cult aspect, and urban legend vibes, as I enjoy any films about both cults and urban legends. There is a good amount of lore and the world-building is done well. I also really enjoyed the setup and first half hour prologue before the title is shown. The prologue stood out to me too, that could be a whole extended film, prequel, or sequel of its own. The setup is extremely eerie and brings a tense and creepy atmosphere full of dread.

The Empty Man

This film understands and presents the tone extremely well. The visuals and way the film is shot support this. There are some very impressive transitions and the cinematography is very unique, yet beautiful. Also, the score and sound design elevate everything. The score feels as if it is always right up in your ears. 

James Badge Dale gives a fantastic performance as a leading every man who is also an unreliable narrator. He has a lot to do and carry and does a great job with his role. The sequence that stood out to me the most was the cabin sequence. We really see the effects of this on James’ psyche.

This film is over two hours long, that runtime is felt about halfway through. It is certainly an ambitious story and a lot happens, so due to this, some parts of the story do not mesh very well. You also must pay very close attention throughout because it can be very disorienting. I found the twists and way things are explained to be somewhat obvious and out of place. Also this is very much a slow burn and all over the place. The ending is not too strong.  

To conclude, watch The Empty Man if you typically enjoy psychological, mystery, slow burn cosmic, folk horror. 

The Empty Man is streaming on HBO Max.

The Empty Man

The Empty Man (2020) Official Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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