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"The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

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"The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Old 09-28-21, 09:33 PM
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"The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge



The Empty Man (2020)




Selected by TheBigDave


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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags aren't always used in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS.

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2021 DISCUSSION | 2021 LISTS

Old 09-30-21, 08:38 AM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

The Empty Man is an unusually long film and I'm looking forward to re-watching it because not sure I entirely understood the end - I get it but not sure how what happened before was important for the end.
It's got an especially strong introduction and I like a lot of noir like cryptic elements about it throughout but not sure it justifies the long run time.
Old 10-19-21, 11:21 PM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I agree that this didn't need to be as long as it was (certainly could've been under 2 hours). But otherwise I quite liked it. From posters and synopses, it sounded like this was another "urban legend" horror. But it ended up going to much more interesting places (Lovecraftian cosmic horror).

These threads have spoilers out in the open, right? Yeah Undeadcow, I don't know if a rewatch would reveal more clues to the truth about Lasombra that you learn at the end. Though the name is a hint ... la sombra is Spanish for "the shadow" (which ends up being appropriate for the character).
Old 10-22-21, 10:28 AM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

The day countdown format is a good one that helps divide the film and give it an interesting structure - it foreshadows well. We expect something to happen on each day then Empty Man need only do a faint whisper of what they advertised for it to stick, and at times it errors more on the side of subtle. The fact that it just doesn't make sense is both strength and weakness with far our surrealism of a self inflected scissors head stabbing gut punching us or monks staring at nothing but then the ambitious mysticism fluff that often falls flat.

The bridge as visual metaphor for spiritual transition is cliché but used well here and it makes me wonder if there are other small visual story elements I might have overlooked; which might make sense given it's graphic novel origins.

It's always fun to watch Stephen Root here as the cult guru Stephen Parson; that guy is one under rated actor.

Interesting tidbit from IMDB trivia - this "...made so little money that even a home video release on DVD was deemed non-profitable."
Originally Posted by brainee
These threads have spoilers out in the open, right? Yeah Undeadcow, I don't know if a rewatch would reveal more clues to the truth about Lasombra that you learn at the end.
Rewatching again after being informed of the ending has the film hit a little differently. It's less a missing person's mystery but more a visual representation of the spiritual transformation of the entity so stuff like leering shots of maps, pans over large forests, slow walking over bridges, constant driving, and the searching has a different more metaphor seeming context. Scenes like him walking through the cult trying to be sneaky when the cult is listening to and welcoming him in their own differential way (or later more desperate way) have a little more humor to them - that the guy is a supernatural beast who just lacks confidence and sense of identity so is scared of his worshippers. I still can't tell if there's more inspired subtext beneath the obvious or not but it's a clever and inventive approach (although not a successful one because the reveal is too late to appreciate the preceding).

Last edited by Undeadcow; 10-22-21 at 10:44 AM.
Old 10-22-21, 11:09 AM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I liked it but I’m still confused. So if he never really existed, then why the flashbacks at the end. Also why show the car crash. He would have no memory of that since he wasn’t there.
I do agree with others, this was a tad too long, but it kept me interested. Good pick.
Old 10-22-21, 11:53 AM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by Toddarino
I liked it but I’m still confused. So if he never really existed, then why the flashbacks at the end. Also why show the car crash. He would have no memory of that since he wasn’t there.
I'm not sure it makes sense but here's my take: the missing girl tells him in the hospital that the supernatural force can only slip through cracks created by grief and sorrow (that they had tried before but failed) so when they conjured him into existence they focused on loss so he would hurt enough to become 'possessed.' I think the flashbacks are TEM's way of showing you a spiritual invasion in a poetic and metaphorical way - it's not really the loss of his child but same tone with the loss of anything he was as his grief is the 'trojan horse' through which he receives the entity and any other identity crashes out of his mind. However it this is what they intended it's a bad kind of movie inventing it's own rules to justify nonsense.

Last edited by Undeadcow; 10-22-21 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 10-22-21, 06:50 PM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

It was very long and had a lot of different elements that made it feel like a mash-up. An urban legend (empty man), a prologue in Bhutan, a missing girl, suicidal teens, a weird cult... and the ending felt a bit like Angel Heart where the protagonist has been set-up all along. I agree with others that I didn't feel like I understood the ending.

It has some great set pieces though. I quite liked the prologue and the idea of the weird skeleton.

After I wrote this I enjoyed reading the comments above. They helped it make more sense to me. Thanks all!
Old 10-22-21, 06:56 PM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Prologue, YES!

I had seen this one a few months ago, and didn’t care too much for it. I really like Badge-Dale, but felt this went on too long with too many separate entities. This one didn’t improve on second viewing either.
Old 10-23-21, 12:39 AM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I really liked the pre-credits sequence, which got things off to a running (or, more precisely, a falling and/or bleeding) start, and I even liked the very "Bloody Mary" Empty Man game. But once the Pontifex Institute entered the picture, the film slowed to a crawl, and them it got all metaphysical on me...and I HATE it when films get all metaphysical on me. Cosmic horror is NOT my thing.

Did not like.

My subset film rankings for the Challenge thus far:

1. Battle Royale
2. Carrie (1976)
3. Curse of the Demon
4. Slither
5. The Ninth Gate
6. Tower of Evil
7. Witchfinder General
8. A Bay of Blood / The Spiral Staircase (averaged together)
9. Planet Terror
10. Silent Madness
11. Slumber Party Massacre II (based purely on its out-of-left-field aesthetic)
12. In Search of Darkness
13. Road Games
14. Daughters of Darkness
15. The Collector
16. Cure
17. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II
18. Grave Robbers (Ladrones de Tumbas)
19. The Severed Arm
20. Fade to Black
21. The Empty Man
22. The Mortuary Collection
23. Cutting Class
Old 10-23-21, 08:47 AM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Undeadcow nailed the explanation of the ending, IMO. The cultists implanted false memories of grief into their tulpa to give TEM a pathway into this new vessel. I'm a sucker for cosmic horror, but TEM is about 30-40 minutes too long, and I really didn't dig it until the very end. The last scene of the hospital staff kneeling to their god was extremely creepy, and it reminded me of The Void for some reason.
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Old 10-25-21, 12:08 AM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I finally watched it tonight and agree with much of what has been said. Not sure if I ever will, but it's one that I should probably rewatch at some point. To be fair, I was doing some laundry during part of it. While the TV was right in front of me, it didn't have my full attention, and after the prologue, it didn't give me much reason to give it. I just found my mind drifting and relatively uninterested, but then the movie seemed to snap into place for me. It got me into it, but then the ending kind of lost me again. I thought maybe it had something to do with my slight inattentiveness, but reading other comments, that may not have entirely been the reason.

Big agreement on this being too long. I'd say finding a way to cut at least 20 minutes would go a long way toward improving the experience.
Old 10-25-21, 12:25 AM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

But forgot to add that this movie also gave me similar vibes to The Void and The Endless. The Endless was even a slightly similar viewing experience for me. An old friend I hadn't seen in many years came over, and we talked and talked through at least the first 30 minutes. By the time, we got to the end, we were both like
Old 10-25-21, 07:25 PM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

A bit of Candyman with Videodrome thrown in. Somewhat long as previously said but a creepy watch.
Old 10-30-21, 01:29 PM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge



I don't think that's how a Tulpa works.
Old 10-30-21, 02:49 PM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

The ending and beginning are stellar enough that the overly long and somewhat muddled middle are bearable. I love horror films that make you think.

Stealing rbrown’s subset ranking idea:


Curse of the Demon, 8/10
The Phantom Carriage, 8/10
Carrie, 8/10
Fade to Black, 8/10
Cure, 8/10
Battle Royale, 8/10

The Spiral Staircase, 8/10
The Empty Man, 8/10
Slumber Party Massacre 2, 7/10
The Ninth Gate, 7/10
A Bay of Blood, 7/10
The Frighteners, 7/10

Road Games, 7/10
Slither, 7/10
Witchfinder General, 7/10
Wildling, 7/10
Planet Terror, 7/10
The Mortuary Collection, 6/10
Cutting Class, 6/10
Prom Night 2: Hello Mary Lou, 6/10
In Search of Darkness, 6/10
Tower of Evil, 5/10
Grave Robbers, 5/10
Daughters of Darkness, 5/10

Silent Madness, 5/10
The Severed Arm, 4/10
The Collector, 2/10
Old 11-01-21, 03:38 PM
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Re: "The Empty Man" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I finally got around to this...




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