BARE BONES: THE EMPTY MAN (2020)

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THE EMPTY MAN (2020)

Flick opens in 1995 with a group of four friends (Aaron Poole, Jessica Matten, Virginia Kull and Evan Jonigkeit) backpacking in the Himalayas. After one has an encounter with a strange skeleton in a cave, the trip goes horribly wrong. The film then picks up twenty-five years later with an emotionally troubled detective (James Badge Dale) trying to find a missing girl. His investigation leads him to a cult who are trying to conjure a malevolent supernatural being they call The Empty Man.

Ridiculously long and generic horror is directed by David Prior from his own script, based on a comic series by Cullen Bunn and Vanesa R. Del Rey. It is basically yet another movie that has someone evoking some sort of boogeyman. A generic and routine boogeyman The Empty Man is at that. With a 137 minute runtime, this film is at least 40 minutes too long and is a tedious chore to sit through, as it is neither scary, nor involving. It’s definitely nothing new. Of course the opening scene…that could have simply been done as a flashback…links to what is going on in present day. No surprise there…or anywhere for that matter. Other than a cast that tries hard, flick is generic, routine and simply way too long, thus giving little to recommend. Boring waste o.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: BONE TOMAHAWK (2015)

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BONE TOMAHAWK (2015)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, this is a brooding and methodically paced western that switches gears into a full blown horror for it’s last act. The story has Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell), who presides over the small western town of Bright Hope, heading into hostile territory to rescue a young wife (Lili Simmons) and his own deputy (Evan Jonigkeit) from a tribe of cave dwelling cannibals, that even the local Native Americans are afraid of. Along with him are his friend and back-up Chicory (Richard Jenkins), an aristocratic gunslinger (Matthew Fox) and the woman’s crippled husband, Arthur (Patrick Wilson).

Zahler takes a good 90 minutes letting us get to know his slightly eccentric characters before throwing them into a meat grinder…almost literally…when they finally encounter the vicious tribe. A good portion of the film is the journey where the moderate pace let’s us really become familiar with Hunt and his party and it lulls us into a sort of sense of security, which we are then shocked out of when the would-be rescuers reach their grim destination. It works very well as when we finally get into the mountain lair of these brutal ‘troglodytes’, we are shocked at the gruesome brutality we are forced to witness after the more laid back 90 minutes. The last act is a bloodbath and as we know these characters so well by now, it makes us feel for them. It’s a cruel and intense and makes the long wait definitely worth the while.

There are some really intriguing characters here and the entire cast does really solid work bringing them to life. To single anyone out would be unfair, though obviously Russell is great as always.

Sure it’s a very slow burn and maybe we would have liked to know more about this ‘tribe’, but it is still a very satisfying and unique movie that is a refreshing change from a lot of the cookie cutter horror that we have seen over the last few years. It can be quite brutal at times, but Zahler gives us a well scripted thriller especially when it comes to his eclectic cast of characters and a real nail-biting finale. Recommended.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 guns.
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