The Empty Man

The Empty Man

Weird and compelling in how out of step it feels with current horror trends. For one, this thing is sprawling, with a 2+ hour runtime and a narrative that keeps expanding (just look at the 20+ minute prologue, which relates to the rest of the film in such a tangential way it might as well be its own short). It runs against the Blumhouse standard of small-scale productions and limited locations, and its inability to settle down plotwise is disarming. It's just constantly going to different places in ways that feel distinctive, and even as things get more and more baffling it gets by on mood alone. It's like this came after its time, and would have fit better between like 2003-2008.

My guess is that problems started on this during production, with the studio realizing that this was not going to be a conventional horror film in the slightest (an early murder sequence with a naked teen is so out of place I hope it was the studio intervening). And the finale is so slapdash I have a hard time believing that there weren't other cooks in the kitchen when it came to editing. Or maybe I'm wrong and just insulting David Prior without realizing it.

But it does feel like the kind of film put in release limbo because it got away with something rather than being a total bomb. I like to think that he almost got away with making a kind of film we don't see from major studios anymore, and maybe some alternate/director's cut is lying around somewhere. Do I have any evidence suggesting that my interpretation is true? Absolutely not, but given what The Empty Man does pull off I'd prefer to believe its flaws come from somewhere else.