Half an hour into this movie and I sincerely believe that I was watching the wrong film.
It’s billed as a supernatural horror thriller set in a Midwestern town in the States, where a group of teens start to disappear as a result of an urban legend known as The Empty Man.
The trailer set up plenty of promise, following a retired cop, James Lasombra (James Badge Dale – World War Z), who investigates these disappearances.
Tonally I was hoping that it would strive to meet the chilling intrigue developed in Clive Barker’s Candyman, but realistically it falls more in line with recent poor outings such as The Bye Bye Man or Slender Man.
Writer / Director, David Prior, who is more known for directing documentaries takes a wild stab at a feature, and from this reviewer’s perspective, projects a similar structure, but unfortunately misses in a big way.
The exposition is too convoluted with twists and turns told in an incredibly laborious manner, that it simply turns the viewer off.
The curious choice to have such a lengthy introduction in order to lay the scene and the foundations of the The Empty Man legend, is unwarranted, especially as we have no connection with any of the characters bar the “infected”. And even then, it is a minimal moment reintroduced as a means to tie everything back together.
By this time, we are so lost in the meanderings of Prior’s apparent love of film noir, yet without any deep intrigue attached to the psyche of our protagonist.
The audience is cuffed by the ankles and dragged along the storyline without any care or attention to building on that relationship, as we are forced to feel every bump and bruise until its bitter conclusion.
I’d say hit the snooze button, but this proves hard viewing and you’re likely to wake up with a lot of jolts and “WTF?” moments and not in a good way.
With a whopping 2 hours and 17 minutes running time, you feel every twitch and strain of the central character’s dive down the urban legend rabbit hole.
Only we’re armed with a toothpick, the ground is made of wurtzite boron nitride, and the plotline is so tangled in its own web, there’s no saving grace for our protagonist or the audience.
- Saul Muerte