Movie Reviews,  Reviews

The Empty Man – Destined to become a Cult Horror Classic

Runtime2h 17m
GenrePsychological Horror/Thriller/Mystery
RatingR (Violence, Profanity, Nudity)

When I came across the title of this movie, I was skeptical as the similar titled movies (The Boogeyman, The Slender man, The Bye-bye man to name a few) were bad. Few exceptions were Candyman and Hollow man. But I was pleasantly surprised. Don’t let the title fool you to think it’s another cheesy cash grabber. The Empty Man is anything but empty!

A damaged ex-cop gets entangled in a weird mystery where reality blurs

The Empty Man stars James Badge Dale as a former detective who takes it upon himself to investigate the disappearance of his neighbor’s daughter. From the onset, you realize that not all is well with him and there is something that’s bothering him. So he takes this case as a redemption of sorts. On the trail of the missing girl, he comes across a secretive group attempting to summon a mysterious entity. Is it just another mindless cult or something more substantial?

The first 25 minutes of The Empty Man is one of the best prologue for any horror-thrillers I’ve seen recently. Then it shifts its tone into an introspective, dark and gritty investigative thriller. The movie doesn’t spoon-feed or rely on meaningless jump scares. But it asks the viewers to decipher what’s going on, builds up suspense and the looming dread. It’s one of those flicks where it lures you in, creeps under your skin thereby unsettling you. Some questions are answered and some are left for the viewers to interpret adding to the mind twisting feel.

Atmospheric, Eerie and Creepy

The Empty Man is like a combination of the movies – Hereditary, Wicker man and Videodrome rolled into one. It has the surreal and philosophical elements of Videodrome, human trauma of Hereditary and the cult investigation of Wicker man. But it’s well laid out and smartly executed to keep the viewers invested in it.

Ari Aster, Jordan Peele, Robert Eggers, André Øvredal and Mike Flanagan are some of my favorite modern horror movie directors in Hollywood. With The Empty Man, the director David Prior has shown potential to be on this list. He has done a commendable job on his debut. The cinematography is top notch with striking imagery and brilliant use of visual storytelling. There are many hidden imageries, visual connections and clues throughout the movie which are not straightforward – You’ll have to pay close attention. The lighting, camera work, set design and the atmosphere amplifies the suspense. Apart from good acting and an intriguing script, the sound design of The Empty Man is excellent. It perfectly syncs with the atmosphere and adds to the sense of dread.

The Empty Man has some amazing shots throughout the movie. There are many zoomed in and wide angle shots with silence. A map that turns into a forest and then finds its way down to a car driving through and the scenes in Bhutan deserves special mention. The scene with the skeleton and encounter in the woods generate chills!

The less you know, the better

Unfortunately, the trailer for The Empty Man is not an accurate representation of the movie. It gives the vibe of another meaningless scary-teen movie, which isn’t the case here. People expecting a fast paced scare fest will be disappointed. This is more of a Folk-Cosmic, psychological horror/mystery.

The Empty Man is largely well done for what it is, but loses some steam towards the end. There are certain logical loopholes. The movie deals with many themes which could have been explored more. The proceedings to the final revelation felt rushed. Nonetheless, this is definitely worth watching!

The Empty Man is one of those ambiguous movies which will have many theories and deep dissections. There is a high probability of it having a cult following in the future.


The Empty Man is not your typical teen horror flick. This is a slow burn psychological horror that has philosophical concepts which meddles with your brain and sense of reality.

Image source: IMDB , YouTube

Have you read my review on the Norwegian Crime-Thriller Headhunters? Read here

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