The Empty Man

The Empty Man ★½

Aptly named because it certainly left me feeling empty.

I don't get the underground buzz that this has received at all; the scatter-brained merging of occult mystery, cosmic horror and police procedural is so half-baked on every front that it falls to pieces as soon as its ideas start to solidify. The root of the narrative has potential as some sort of paranormal puzzle, but it just descends into stupidity the longer it goes on before reaching a third act where it thinks simply overloading the senses with hyperactive editing and bewildering twists (so many horror films fly off the rails like this) will distract from the dearth of interesting content and the moronic conclusion. It's like David Prior decided to meld all the differing elements of spooky films he likes together but didn't have a clue where to go once he did; he's just throwing vague takes on cultism, folklore, the supernatural and tragic backstories into a blender.

It also lacks a key ingredient, personality. This is a cinematic beige wall. Horror is one of the few genres where there's a lot of leeway to get creative visually, but outside of some nice transitions I felt this was overly unimaginative in that department. Then there's the fact that every single character is painfully bland (I honestly forgot the main character's name 3/4s of the way through, he's that insipid) which makes it virtually impossible to get emotionally invested in anything that's happening. There are some genuinely creepy and atmospheric moments littered about; the issue is that you have to wade through an inordinate amount of nothingness to get them, something which is spotlighted by the excessive running time. I usually enjoy slow burn chillers, but there's no reason whatsoever for something this indistinct and ponderous to be as long as it is.

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