The mental sphere – All that glitters is not cinema

The Empty Man

The Empty Man: The Latter-day Messenger it’s a thriller American horror story written and directed by David Prior (This is Zodiac speaking, how could they make a movie about Facebook?). The story is based on the graphic novel of the same title written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Vanesa R. Del Rey. A former police officer investigates the disappearance of teenagers after invoking a supernatural being in a game. What he will discover later surpasses everything imaginable by the mind of a single man. It is starring James Badge Dale (Hightown, Shame), Marin Ireland (The Dark and the Wicked, The Man in the Woods), Stephen Root (Barry, Office Space), Robert Aramayo (Behind your eyes, Antebellum), Samantha Logan, Owen Teague, Virginia Kull, Evan Jonigkeit, Joel Courtney, Jessica Matten and Sasha Frolova. The film has not been released in theaters in Spain and it reaches us directly through platforms such as Movistar +, Rakuten TV O Google Play, from February 26, 2021.

Three nights to die

The Empty Man it is an imperfect film, but strange and suggestive enough to interest us very much. It is the adaptation of a dark comic created by Cullen Bunn with illustrations of Vanesa R. Del Rey. The story centers on a former policeman who investigates the disappearance of some teenagers after playing a stupid game that connects them with a supernatural entity. According to an urban legend, if you blow into an empty bottle that you have found lying on a bridge, you will be summoning the Empty Man. The first night you will hear it. The second you will see. And the third will find you. That absurd premise may be reminiscent of many horror movies. teen, al J-Horror or the classic communication with the afterlife through a Ouija board. The Empty Man it is much more complex than all that.

In fact, one of the defects that can be attributed to The Empty Man it is to have a peculiar narrative that is making leaps, both plot and style, evoking a complete review of the different subgenres of terror. That makes it unpredictable, which is always welcome, but it also ends up dispersing excessively, impairing the understanding of the story. The beginning of the film is frankly magnificent. It is a 20-minute prologue that works as an independent short film and where we are introduced to two couples of mountaineers during an expedition through Tibet. One of the boys will fall into a cave and from there the nightmare will begin. His companions find him in a catatonic state as he observes a kind of sinister altar with a humanoid skeleton in the center. In that image we find echoes of the xenomorph of Alien: the eighth passenger (Ridley Scott, 1979) and of the cults lovecraftians.

The generic jump

After the prologue, another different film begins. We will see some teenagers who play with the aforementioned bottle of yore and since then they will be chased by a strange being from another world. It could very well be the plot for any teen horror movie with stupid people doing stupid things. But The Empty Man It is much more ambitious and it is not satisfied with stretching the persecution of the kids to see how they die one after another. He prefers to give another swerve where the bet opts for the thriller detective with supernatural overtones. We are not facing an action movie and scares, it is much more psychological and relaxed, without this implying that the rhythm drops at any time.

The protagonist, a great James Badge Dale, has its own traumas and demons. You could say that it is the usual stereotype of anti-hero that inhabits film noir. He is a lonely being, he takes medicine and suffers nightmares due to a painful event in the past. During his inquiries, in some moments, he can remind us of Harry Angel from The Heart of the Angel (Alan Parker, 1987). Here we will not find voodoo practitioners, but we will find a kind of religious sect that venerates the Empty Man. The detective will enter a complex labyrinth with no exit that will become increasingly dark and unreal. We can find, then, a brief note that relates it to the subgenus of the folk horror, although he ends up using more of certain aspects of the creepypasta how i did The Slender Man (Sylvain White, 2018), to later address the so-called cosmic terror.

David Prior, a director to consider

Such a combination of subgenres could suggest uncontrollable chaos, yet the documentary maker David Prior find a way to make your narrative flow coherently and without fanfare. In fact, the work of this director who has just arrived in fiction must be valued. It can be criticized for many things such as the excessive length of the film that goes up to 137 minutes, but it is also undeniable that it gives us some of the best recent horror sequences.

To the initial sequences from Tibet, with a separate mention for the cave scene, we must add the horrifying moment when the researcher discovers some video recordings, his encounter with the members of the cult in full ritual or some of the appearances of his own Empty Man. David Prior It exhibits talent for staging and you demonstrate that you have the necessary tools to generate atmospheric anguish. Attention, too, to the extraordinary soundtrack of Christopher Young (Sinister, drag me to hell). Beyond the pretentiousness that we can find in its philosophical and nihilistic packaging where some concepts of Buddhist mysticism and Russian cosmism are incorporated, the film knows how to put fear in the body. It is what we are looking for. That little sound reminiscent of the rattle of Kayako in the saga Ju-on, it gets into your brain. The Empty Man is a great horror film that any lover of the genre should set out to discover. It is well above the average for premieres of the genre and should not go unnoticed.


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The Empty Man


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The mental sphere – All that glitters is not cinema