Fabian’s review published on Letterboxd:
thought + concentration + time = flesh
I went into David Prior's overlooked cult horror epic not knowing anything about it, and I can only urge everyone else to do the very same: don't read anything about this film, and just enter the experience open-minded. You might just be surprised by how good this film is. It's like every rendition of the formula of supernatural horror films you have ever seen applied through a filter of David Fincher and highlighted with actual character development (something you just don't see very often in films of this kind), genuine scares and a captivating mythology that is established throughout the film.
After being completely dismissed amidst its theatrical release, The Empty Man has (thankfully) gained the word-of-mouth attention it so much deserves. Without any marketing activities, it was quietly released in cinemas by Disney last year as a result of the Disney/Fox merger, and they surely hoped that The Empty Man would be quickly forgotten and done with, not realizing what a gem they had on their hands. Admittedly, The Empty Man is slightly overlong for a film of its kind, but every minute of that runtime is well-earned, and thinking closer about it, I wouldn't know what to cut away from the material.
The twenty-minute long prologue is brutally unsettling and sets the tone for the rest of the runtime. A little more ambiguity at certain times might have enabled a more effective result, but there is no denying that David Prior (in his debut feature, too!) knew what he was doing. He confidently walks you through an increasingly terrifying story that will leave you shaking in the end. An unexpected gem, and the kind of ambitious and well-crafted horror film that I would truly love to see more of.