The Empty Man

The Empty Man ★★★★½


Absurd to think that this was ever considered marketable in the current horror landscape, but the fox/disney merger made it easy for The Empty Man to get swept under the rug. It's a shame, because this 138 minute horror epic is a testimony to the influences of J-horror, particularly Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and cosmic, ontological dread, pulsating within the aesthetic parameters of prestige television ala Mindhunter (considering the director used to work with Fincher, it makes too much sense). So unique is its execution that you'll forgive some rough patches in its plotting. Beginning with a 20 minute prologue that merely plants the seeds for a mythological origin, it's not too far removed from a 'creepypasta' premise or an allegory for the dangers of cult mentality, but what lingers is its existential despair. The titular 'empty man' doesn't really matter in the long run - rather, the film is an ancient ritual of reckoning for our inability to accept reality as it is. The search for further meaning is manifested as an evil which transcends all concrete foundations of the world around us. Not only am I surprised that this was made, but I'm surprised that The Empty Man is as committed to its ideas as it is to its gloomy, haunted imagery. There are sequences in The Empty Man that are inspired, terrifying, and formally audacious, but their rigorous placement in the film is a testament to the speculative center. A mix of X-files and nu-horror and tattered paperbacks, with a horrid rotten core of total lack of meaning.

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