"Reel Reviews: ‘The Empty Man’ has striking plot once you get past cliché teenagers" by: Jessica Shepard

   Every time October and Halloween come around, movie production companies roll out a mess of horror and thriller movies aimed at older teen and adult audiences.
   Even with COVID-19 still lingering around the world there’s been more scary movies available this month than any other.
   In keeping with that tradition, I took a chance to watch “The Empty Man” in the hopes of being marginally creeped out by a movie that taglines teenagers as their main characters.
   I have to tell you that despite the slow start and sort of boring ending that this movie is surprisingly better than it is at first glance.
   Especially if you’re like me and watch trailers beforehand.
   Empty Man is rated R for violence, disturbing images, language, some sexuality and nudity and clocks in at 137 minutes long.
   And I have to tell you that it is too long to get to the point, but, sitting through it is mostly worth it.
   The Empty Man is a supernatural horror thriller film written, directed, and edited by David Prior, based on Cullen Bunn and Vanesa R. Del Rey’s graphic novel of same name published by Boom! Studios.
   The film stars James Badge Dale, Marin Ireland, Stephen Root, Samantha Logan, Ron Canada, Robert Aramayo, Joel Courtney, and Sasha Frolova.
   The prologue opens with a group of friends hiking some Asiatic mountain range in the middle of nowhere when one of them stumble and falls down a hole into nowhere.
   When said friend doesn’t answer the rest of the group, they work on rescuing him and are warned not to touch him or they will die.
   It only gets progressively weirder and unsettling after that, leading in the ultimate death of the group of friends in three days - save the one who fell down the hole.
   I might have missed the initial year that the prologue was staged in, but after that, the story is set in 2018.
   After a group of teens from Webster Mills, Missouri, begin to mysteriously disappear, the locals believe it is the work of an urban legend known as The Empty Man.
   In fact, the police are stumped and rather useless save for retired cop Jason Lasombra (Dale) who is set on investigating the disappearance of his former lover Nora’s (Ireland) daughter Amanda (Frovola).
   He plays private detective and, after asking around at the local high school, Davara Walsh (Logan) introduces him to the concept of “The Empty Man,” a Slender Man-like figure summoned by kids that really should know better.
   After a chilling discovery under a bridge and the freak stabbing death of Davara, James is put on the case by a local detective (Canada) who also struggles to make sense of a series of interconnected Empty Man-inspired murders.
   This sets James down a path towards the Ponitfax Society, a secretive cult interested in the “transmission” of ideas led by Arthur Parsons (Root), a quasi-preacher interested in sharing the message of The Empty Man.
   But the further James investigates, the weirder things become and he’s treated to hallucinations and Parson’s version of ridiculous cult devotion that takes a page straight out of Jim Jones’ playbook.
   It doesn’t take long for his life -and the lives of those close to him - to be in grave danger.

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