‘I am telling you. You’re just not listening...’
On the whole, I try to review every film I watch. Sometimes too much time elapses and I simply can’t remember enough about the film to do it justice. Sometimes I haven’t been in a reliable enough state when watching the film to pass judgement on it (I recently watched Noah in the throes of a terrible hangover and I might as well have been staring at a blank screen for two hours). And sometimes, I just have nothing much to say. In a way, I suppose there can be no greater insult to any film than having literally not a thing to say about it. And so… to The Empty Man…
When a bunch of high school kids end up dead, private investigator and former cop James Lasombra (James Badge Dale) tumbles down a rabbit hole of secret societies, malevolent spirits and an ancient evil.
Based on the title and the synopsis, David Prior’s film might come across as your standard horror fare. Actually, there is loads going on here. Too much in fact. We have an Exorcist aping prologue that takes place in the mysterious valleys of Bhutan, we have an insidious entity known as the Empty Man, we have a missing teenager, strange hallucinations and an inscrutable cult. Any one of these threads could have made a great 90 minute horror flick, particularly as Prior is adept at keeping a fairly ludicrous story grounded whilst still providing shocking and innovative scares. The finished product clocks in at almost two and a half hours. An outrageous running time for a film of this quality.
In the end, The Empty Man collapses under the weight of its own ambition. There is simply too much going on here. And as my students often tell me about my lessons, it’s far too long.