Linda Cook review: ‘Empty Man’ will fear you with dread

Movies

Perfectly in synch with the 2020 Halloween season, “The Empty Man” will fill you with dread.

This smart, cerebral horror story (think “Hereditary”) is far from a stalk ‘n’ slash. Every scene is connected to other scenes, and all the dialogue is linked as well.

At the beginning, the focus is a bunch of hikers in Bhutan who have a, shall we say, creepy experience. The title of the film doesn’t even appear until after the tragedy plays out.

Now there’s a time shift, and the central focus is a mystery. A bunch of high-school kids have gone missing. As a favor to the mother of one of them, James (James Badge Dale, “Little Woods,”) a retired police officer, goes in search of them.

What he begins to stumble upon is puzzling and unnerving. One high-school student tells him about an urban legend, the Empty Man, which supposedly can be summoned if you find an empty bottle on a bridge, then blow across the top of it.

The story goes that after someone summons the Empty Man, he can be heard on the first night. On the second, he can be seen, and on the third, he finds his victim.

He begins to do some research into the legend, but finds out there’s a lot more to it than a ghost story. He discovers what may be a cult “hidden” in plain sight.

While he learns more about the mysterious organization, more ghastly occurrences go on … you know, like a kind of virus, or dare I say pandemic … that results in more deaths.

Based on the Boom! Studios graphic novels by Cullen Bunn, this film scared the living daylights out of me, with disturbing images, concepts and sounds that are hard to shake.

Horror aficionados will want to take this bridge to fear.

3 ½ out of 4 stars

Running time: Two hours and 17 minutes.

Rated: R for foul language, gore, and sexual situations.

At Cinemark, Davenport.

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