8/10 “A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.” – Senator Palpatine. I found that line appropriate for this film since I had rather low expectations, as I do with most modern horror films that rely on cheap jump scares and undeveloped characters making stupid decisions. However, “The Empty Man” far exceeded my expectations for several reasons. For starters, the film is over two hours long (most horror films tend to fall around an hour and a half) which means the film wasn’t rushed. It had time to throw in an engaging backstory, develop some characters and let the story unfold properly. The pacing was fine as I was entertained from start to finish so the running time works in the film’s favor. As for that backstory, the film opens with a flashback that goes on for at least 20 minutes which I really dug. It perfectly set the creepy, sinister vibe of the film up and established that this is a hard R rated horror film, as it should be. The film has some of the best sound design work in recent memory with its Buddhist style chants, clicking sounds, ambient noise, whispers and best of all, how instead of most of the sound coming at you from the screen, most of the creepy noises were projected all around me, as if I had to turn and see if someone just whispered into my ear. The score was perfectly ominous and unsettling which took the film up a notch. I’ve always found James Badge Dale to be an underrated actor and he continues to put in solid work in this film. The rest of the cast does a fine job but Dale is the obvious standout. The film takes some unexpected twists and turns which I did not see coming, which is always a good thing for a film to be able to pull off. I won’t go into details about the plot of the film to avoid spoilers but the less you know about the film going in, the better. The minor problems I had with the film won’t detour horror film fans from checking this out but they are worth noting. Some of the plot, particularly in the first two acts, takes from other horror films of the past that we have already seen before and some of the supporting characters don’t get much development. That being said, the terrific atmosphere, solid lead performance, phenomenal sound design and plot twists make this film anything but empty.

#EmptyVesselsWakeTheHostFound / #JamesLostHisBadgeDale / #NotAChantsInHell / #WorldWarE / #MoldTheDark / #RunningOnEmptyMan

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