The Empty Man (2020, David Prior)

The horror flop-cult-hit of the year lives up to its growing reputation. I’m not convinced all the story threads came together, but loved the plot shifts, false leads, repetitions, and the overall look and movement of the thing.

Paul (Aaron Poole of The Void) falls down a hole in Bhutan and has an encounter with a zen skeleton, then becomes mute until a couple days later when he psychically murders his friends. 20+ years later, James Badge Dale is a Lonely Guy, an ex cop with a dead family. The neighbor’s daughter Amanda tries to cheer him up by saying nothing is real, then she summons urban legend The Empty Man and all her friends are found hanging under a bridge, so dumbass James emptymans himself to solve the mystery.

Amanda, emptymanning her friends:

This seems a straightforward murder-ghost scenario, but James’s investigation uncovers a dangerous doomsday cult that formed around Bhutan Paul, seeking to transfer his consciousness into a new empty vessel. A Cassady/Pattinson type (Robert Aramayo from Nocturnal Animals) helps feed him clues. Great abduction scene, all potential witnesses looking at their phones.

“We can’t indict the cosmos”

“Staged by Prior with an unnerving sense of convergence that recalls the thrillers of his sometime collaborator David Fincher, right down to the participation of a guru-like figure who goes by John Doe.” Adam Nayman conducted an essential interview for Mubi, the most unexpected shoutout being The Hamster Factor.