The Empty Man
20th Century Fox
Written by David Prior (Based on the comic book series written by Cullen Bunn)
Directed by David Prior
Starring James Badge Dale, Marin Ireland, Sasha Frolova, Samantha Logan, Evan Jonigkiet, Virginia Kull, Robert Aramayo, Ron Canada, Stephen Root and Owen Teague
On the trail of a missing girl, an ex-cop comes across a secretive group attempting to summon a terrifying supernatural entity.
The first twenty minutes of this film serve as an interesting prologue for everything to come. It has some standard horror movie themes and great imagery, but what it also does really well if not force anything on the viewer. The moments happen organically and Prior does a great job of setting up the world of this film through its characters. There is a great build up of the terror in the first twenty minutes that tells the viewer that this story is going to be different.
In the aftermath, we’re introduced to James Lasombra (Badge Dale), a former police officer who operates a personal security store in a small town. After getting a cryptic visit from the daughter of a friend, he is called to the friend’s home to determine why the girl disappeared and what it has to do with a ritual the kids play that is supposed to call a supernatural being known as the Empty Man.
His investigation into the missing girl will find more missing teens connected to the missing girl and a gruesome discovery that James will discover is connected to something bigger and more disturbing. Lasombra finds himself investigating a doomsday cult with a connection to the Empty Man and a reach that is getting bigger and wider. Things get more tense when he follows clues to one of the cult’s locations and discovers some truly disturbing evidence. Evidence that the police will not follow.
As things get more intense, James gets more paranoid and rightfully so. After discovering that followers of the cult are seeing a mystery man in a coma, he finds some disturbing information about himself. Information that leads him to a dark reckoning with the man, his followers and his own destiny.
The Empty Man is an interesting concept that looks really good. David Prior does a great job of setting the stage for the characters and there are some genuine visual scares to be found. Unfortunately, all of the stylish visuals can’t save a story that has great ideas, but few avenues to explore them. Everything with the cult was good, but it never seemed as big a threat as it could have. The ideas created with James are fantastic, but we aren’t given enough opportunities to explore them. As a fan of the comic book series, I wanted to like this movie. The problem I found in liking it more than I did is that it always felt like it was about to do something big and interesting and then never really delivered.