The Empty Man

The Empty Man

Without a doubt the most exciting and surprising studio film in recent memory. Maybe this stayed off my radar because I’ve been off Twitter for a while but I went all the way back to 2016 and couldn’t find anything remotely resembling a proper analogue to this shot out of the blue miracle. It’s obvious that the unknown first-timer inherited some of his mentor’s sleek style and inky, seasick palette but he’s got a different touch. Fincher’s movies are more kinetic and sharp around the edges but there’s a novelistic sweep here and Prior’s use of digital achieves a stately, almost painterly grace. Enough auteur bravura to make you go “damn” under your breath without the kid brother tricks that put people off of someone like Ari Aster. Kinda sorta writes itself into a corner by the end and deploys a certain trick too often (e.g. abrupt, boisterous cuts during suspenseful scenes for a non-diegetic jolt) but near-perfect in my opinion. Features two or three of the scariest, heart-in-your-throat sequences I can ever recall seeing and a god-level movie star turn from one of our greatest living actors, James Badge Dale. If ever there was a movie to expose the braindead vanity of awards season, this is it. If you don’t like this, you got doodoo for brains, sorry!

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