The Empty Man

The Empty Man ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Rating may be enthusiasm but when something this odd and bold slips thru the studio cracks (Disney gave so little of a fuck about this, they even forgot to change the 20th Century Fox logo), it's hard not to get excited.

Others have noted its oddities - the 20 minute prologue with unconnected characters, the spare images and cosmic bent. Your ears perk up when Stephen Root just starts talking phenomenology, or when you notice the establishing shot of "Jacques Derrida High School" in Everytown, Missouri (much like when the bar in Bone Tomahawk is called The Learned Goat). It starts as a ghostly being slasher flick with a few resourceful touches, ends as a play on Kiss Me Deadly (in that it starts as one kind of film of its genre, ends in another more all encompassing place... this is a much more derivative film than that one, though it's the melange that's fun).

I'll have to rewatch with the ending in mind to see how it plays but I was particularly taken with that twist. Extremely clever, asking us, on top of everything else, to identify with the horror of being a movie character. Invented solely for the purpose of the story in front of us, going through whatever pain and suffering is "written" for them, fading out of consciousness as soon as all the (presumably) major events in this life are wrapped up - not because you've truly let go but because it's fated. Others have compared this to Kiyoshi Kurosawa's films, and this ending and it's implications are the closest thing I've seen to why I found Pulse so scary. About the inevitable, and playing on drawing out that inevitability. Whatever flaws there may be (the "Fincher color grading on a budget" isn't always my favorite look, and there are a few out of place studio-horror scares in here), the charge of where it ends up left me buzzing. Can't imagine Prior is gonna get let back in the store, but I hope he can continue making films.

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