The Empty Man 2020 is a supernatural horror-thriller film that is remarkably ambitious and challenging. It is an exceptional directorial debut.
The Empty Man 2020 Movie Cast
|James Badge Dale – James Lasombra||David Prior – Screenwriter|
|Owen Teague – Duncan West||Stephen Christy – Producer|
|Marin Ireland – Nora Quail||Ross Richie – Producer|
|Stephen Root – Arthur Parsons||Anastas N. Michos – Cinematographer|
|Joel Courtney – Brandon Maibaum||Andrew Buckland – Film Editor|
|Aaron Poole – Paul||Christopher Young – Original Music|
|Robert Aramayo – Garrett||Craig Lathrop – Production Design|
|Samantha Logan – Davara Walsh||Shane Bunce – Art Director|
|David Prior – Director||Henry Du Rand – Set Decoration|
The Empty Man 2020 Movie Review
The empty man came out last year, 2020 in the middle of a pandemic on October twenty third, it was directed by David Pryor and it’s one of the last 20th Century Fox movies before Disney ended up buying 20th-century studios at the time and doing the whole merger and everything kind of went to shit for some of the filmmakers that got caught in the shuffle. And David Pryor was one of those filmmakers.
when his film came out. I didn’t see it. I didn’t even request a or link for it. I may have been able to I don’t know. I just was like, I don’t want to watch that.
Because the title and the trailer reminded me of Slenderman or Truth or Dare or the Bye Bye Man or another creepypasta movie. And I have had just about enough of those because historically they’re not very good. And so I was just like, I don’t need this, I don’t need it, I just don’t. And I didn’t see it and nobody else did either. This film was dumped in theaters.
The trailer was made a week before it was to come out. It was just thrown away. Nobody saw the movie. It does not even have a home media release. There is not a physical release of this film on DVD or Blu-ray as of this review. It is just a movie that exists on streaming now. It was in theaters for like a day. It’s crazy. I really like to talk about it, though, because some people have encouraged me to watch it.
I finally decided to sit down and watch it. And I really want to talk about this movie. I feel like this is the exact type of film that I have my website for a movie that no one’s really championing that has a small fan base.
But for the most part, people have decided is bad. It has been given the seal of bad from the Internet. Because thirteen people as of right now on Rotten Tomatoes have resulted in a forty-six percent.
And because of that, the Internet has declared the film bad, having not really seen it. Now, if you don’t like the movie man, that’s totally fine. I’m not here to tell you you’re wrong.
I’m just here to share my thoughts on a film that has been passed over by many people and a film that was treated very badly in its release and a film that I think in years to come will have a considerable cult following, and I think it deserves it.
I’ll also say that I’m getting a lot of the information about the filmmaker David Pryor from an interview conducted by Secret Handshake. It’s an excellent interview. It’s an hour and forty-five minutes long.
The man as a film is, I think, what most filmmakers, especially in the horror genre, wished happened to them in that David Pryor was basically given a ton of money to make the film he wanted to make with 20th Century Fox. They gave him a fairly substantial amount of funds. There’s a lot of money on the screen. It’s beautifully shot. This is a 20th Century Fox movie. They put a lot of money behind a very strange idea that was based on a graphic novel.
And the film is nothing like a graphic novel. So the excitement factor, I would imagine for a filmmaker is, hey, just make your really bizarre movie, just go for it. Here’s money. We like your vision. That part’s great, but the reason that doesn’t happen that much is because of the outcome of the man, nobody went and saw it. It’s a two-hour, 17-minute horror film made by a large studio that doesn’t have a massive lead, famous lead James badge.
Dale is certainly a great actor and people know who he is. It’s not like they hired a Brad Pitt or a younger 20, 30 something actor who’s really hot right now, as you got to from Zoolander might say, this is a horror movie made for adults that’s very long, extremely ambiguous, and is risky as hell. This film has a twenty-five almost minute prolog before the title shows up. That’s insanity. I love it, that’s fucking crazy, the fact that this movie exists, despite some of the issues I do have with the narrative and some things that don’t always feel incredibly cohesive, just the fact that it got made is endlessly inspiring to me.
I am so excited that at least at one point in time there was a studio that said, here’s a bunch of money to a first-time director to make a weird-ass movie like this. I mean, this shit feels like an eight twenty-four movie, but it was made by 20th Century Fox and then Disney purchased Fox. And that’s where we run into problems because according to that interview, the producers who had Pryors back who were like, yes, your vision is cool and it’s unique and this is going to be something that is special.
They weren’t there anymore. Suddenly there’s a two-and-a-half-hour horror movie with not a lot of answers and no humongous stars in it and a twenty-five-minute prolog without any of the main characters. And what are we going to do with this thing? So they screened it and they hated it and they said, we’re going to fuck up your movie, we’re going to cut it down to 90 minutes. We’re going to destroy your vision because that’s just what we’re going to fucking do.
They screened the 90-minute version and the 90-minute version scored worse than the two-and-a-half-hour version, so they said, fuck it, man, just release your two-and-a-half-hour version, will dump it in theaters just by. And that’s what happened. Again, I must thank the people at Secret Handshake for that interview because I wouldn’t have known that. And that really enlighten me a lot watching the film a second time.
I mean, I loved it the first time I saw it, but watching it a second time, the respect level went through the roof because I saw, again, a first time filmmaker who is making a movie that no one will watch in theaters, that it’s like guaranteed to fail unless you are Ridley Scott or Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino or some giant person like that. This movie’s going nowhere and it didn’t go anywhere. Now, a little bit of history about David Pryor.
He got his start working in behind the scenes with David Fincher. He did this Fight Club DVD that a lot of people have. He had all of these great ideas for Fincher, his releases. He was able to sort of shadow and watch the way Fincher worked on sets and create really great DVD special features back when, like DVDs had insanely good special features. You just don’t get anymore. A lot of our favorite featurettes on DVDs and home media came from this guy, so he had a first-person.
Look at some of the best filmmakers out there and watching this movie, it feels Fincher esque. There are tons of insert shots, lots of use of yellow and green. He had a massively important film school being able to watch Fincher work like that and work on those home media releases. And you see it in this film if you’re looking for it.
If you have not seen the film, I am going to talk about spoilers now. Please watch it.
I must warn you, not everyone is going to like this film. It doesn’t have a lot of answers. There are some things that towards the end don’t necessarily make 100 percent sense. There are a few things that I don’t understand yet, and I’m still trying to figure out if it’s just one of those things you’re not really supposed to reinterpret, and maybe it’s supposed to be ambiguous and you’re just supposed to decide your own thing, watched very well could be.
It’s not going to be for everybody. But I do think that it is a film that will have a cult following in years to come. I could easily see this movie being reprogramed at Fantastic Fest. Once we have in-person festivals. Again, I could easily see somebody just being like, we’re showing this fucking movie and getting a new fan base for it. One of the things I love about the movie is the way prior connected images bridges are in the film.
Everywhere we have our prolog opening characters who have to cross a rickety bridge to get to this mountainside, or one of them falls down a crevice and discovers this HRR Geiger Esque skeleton that the director said was inspired by this painting. When we meet our lead character, James La Sombra, he is running on a bridge. And later on in the film, when we get our scene, that was basically made for the trailer explaining how the empty man is called, that takes place on a bridge as well.
And this meshes with one of the film’s ideas that a person can be a transmitter or in this case, a tulpa, somebody who receives signals and sends them out to other people. And they’re all sort of part of this strange cult, in a way, a bridge to each other. And there were other strange visuals that kind of got trapped in my mind, like them spinning these things. I don’t really know what they are. And then our hero later spins this umbrella without the actual fabric on it, or when James is at the doctor and we get this insert shot of his fingers kind of interlocked, it looks like the skeleton in the beginning.
There are so many strange things in this movie, visuals that feel very dreamlike. My best comp for it is it’s almost like the film Stay and a Cure for Wellness, which are both films that critics declared bad that aren’t at all and are very unique and special. And I feel the same way about this film.
I also love that it was shot anamorphic. The edges of the frame bleed out and feel out of the focus.
Structure slightly distorted, as great anamorphic lenses will do to a film, it looks so, so beautiful and there’s more great hidden imagery, like when James walks past this painting at the Pontifex Institute, that is absolutely the house from the Prolog. There are so many strange things like that. That really makes you think and feel like you’re in the middle of a dreamlike scenario. They also put real money into the transitions. There’s a fantastic transition that disappears into a map, into an overhead of trees, and you can actually see the towns and the roads that sort of disappear into the trees.
Again, that’s very Fincher esque. The film’s edit is pristine. There are shots that flow by in a very subtle way, that stick in your mind and remind you of things like, for instance, in the beginning, you have this woman put a knife right next to the door and you see that shot for a fraction of a second. The next day when they leave from that same setup, you see them go out the door, but the knife is not there
It’s very smart. It activates that side of your brain that makes you feel like you’re discovering things while you watch the movie. It trusts the audience. It respects the audience immensely. And this film has a sequence that I think is the scariest scene that I’ve seen in a film since hereditary. And what I love about it is that it feels like a sequence. It feels like a filmmaker was like, here’s a goddamn set piece. So James goes to a place called Camp Elsewhere.
This entire scene is riveting. He watches these horrifying videos and behind him, there’s a teddy bear. Later, that motherfucker’s gone, which is the worst thing ever. But when those videos end, which are terrifying, he wanders outside and now it’s dark. And across this stream is this insane cult dance around a campfire. I don’t even want to show you. I just want you to watch The Empty Man movie just in case. For some reason, some of you are still watching this, even though you haven’t seen it.
That entire sequence that plays out after that gave me real chills through my body. You know, you sometimes have a critic say this movie is chilling and you get a pull quote on a DVD or whatever, real goosebumps through my whole body throughout that whole scene.
Brilliant editing. He does this great thing with the movie Man Law where if you take a step towards it, it might take a step back. But if you step back. It’s almost like you’re inviting him to chase you, it’s fucking amazing. Now, within that video is an image of someone using their own blood and organs to finger paint on the wall. And James looks over and finds this image on the wall, which is very similar to the blood spray that occurs at the end of the film
Another visual connection. This film is littered with them. There are so many ideas in the movie. And as I’ve said, they don’t always work. But and give me a movie that just reaches for the stars, that fuckin aims for the fences, doesn’t always connect. But there are more ideas in the first 25 minutes of this movie than your average 90 to 100-minute horror. This film is so ambitious. It’s ambitious to a fault and I absolutely want to support it.
I’m blown away that there’s no home media release, especially considering the director got his start on home media releases. I would love to hear a commentary. I just want someone to put this on Blu-ray.
If anybody is listening, whether it’s like Sevran or Arrow or Kino Lorber, somebody somewhere put this fuckin movie on Blu-ray, please. It deserves it. I’m still waiting on Lake Mungo. I’m still waiting on Angel’s Egg. Why don’t they want to release movies like this? I just don’t get it. Let’s go, people. Come on.
I’m not going to great The Empty Man, but it’s absolutely a positive. This time it’s on you watch it and tell me your opinion.
I really, really, really, really hope more people see it. And like I said, it might not be for you. You might not enjoy the movie. But if you are the type of viewer that likes cosmic horror similar to annihilation, a cure for wellness, stay movies that just feel like it’s insane that they got made, like, how did this happen?
You know, who put money behind these movies? Who was like, yes, that, you know, without a big star in it? I don’t know how it happened, but it did, and I hope that more people see it.
Guys, thank you so much, as always, for reading. Look forward to more reviews very soon.
The Empty Man 2020 Official Trailer
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