THE EMPTY MAN*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
Ura Valley, Bhutan, 1995 – Four friends – Greg (Evan Jonigkeit), Paul (Aaron Poole), Fiona (Jessica Matten), and Ruthie (Virginia Kull) – are hiking on a mountain to reach a spot they have been searching for a while. A text reading “DAY ONE” appears. After he blows into what looks like a flute instrument, Paul then seems to hear something calling to him. He walks until he falls down a crevice. Greg goes in to rescue him and finds Paul sitting down facing a bizarre-looking skeleton while muttering something to himself. The skeleton appears to move slightly, but Greg gets Paul out in time. The friends carry Paul out and spot a nearby house with nobody in it, so they stay there for now.
On Day Two, Paul’s condition doesn’t appear to get better, as he is just lying around in silence. Outside, Ruthie appears to see a figure in the ongoing snowstorm. As she steps back, the figure matches her footsteps before starting to charge toward her, but she runs back inside the house and shuts the door. When she hears pounding outside, she continues to block the door until she hears Greg and Fiona. Ruthie asks them if they heard or saw anyone outside, but they deny it. As Ruthie is sleeping later, it appears as though Paul is whispering something in her ear.
Day Three – Greg, Fiona, and Ruthie bring Paul with them as they continue their hike in the area. Ruthie appears dazed until she takes out a knife and stabs Greg and Fiona, throwing their bodies over the edge of the cliff before she throws herself off, leaving Paul by himself while he simply blows into the flute instrument.
Jump to Missouri in 2018 where former detective James Lasombra (James Badge Dale) is working in a security store. He frequently hears a voice saying “Where were you?” since it has been a year after his wife Allison (Tanya van Graan) and son Henry died in a car accident. He frequently looks out for teenager Amanda Quail (Sasha Frolova), as he is friends with her mother Nora (Marin Ireland). Amanda hasn’t had a good relationship with Nora since her father passed away, so she looks to James as an alternate figure.
Amanda soon appears to have run away, and Nora calls James for help. They find a message on her mirror written in blood, “The Empty Man made me do it.” After official detectives take on the case, James decides to do a little investigation of his own.
James visits the high school to find Amanda’s friend Devara Walsh (Samantha Logan). She sits in his car and tells her about a couple nights ago when she and Amanda, plus friends Brandon (Joel Courtney), Julianne (Marijke Bezhuidenhout), Meyer (Connor Dowds), Lisa (Jamie-Lee Money), and Duncan (Owen Teague), were walking across the nearby bridge where Amanda decided to summon The Empty Man, an urban legend that takes three days to appear. On the first day, those who summon him will hear him calling to them. On the second day, he makes his presence known to them. On the third day, he finds them. The teens all blew into a bottle as per tradition. Devara also remembers seeing Amanda whispering in Brandon’s ear similar to how Paul whispered to Ruthie. Devara thinks she sees The Empty Man in the woods before she leaves James’s car.
Later that night, James goes by the bridge to continue looking into Amanda’s disappearance. He finds the bottle that they were using and he blows into it. James then walks down a ladder that leads underneath the bridge where he comes across the hanged corpses of Brandon, Julianne, Meyer, Lisa, and Duncan. The same message from Amanda’s mirror is also written. Meanwhile, Devara enters a spa, and when it is foggy enough, The Empty Man attacks, stabbing her with a pair of scissors but making it look like she was stabbing herself. It is officially ruled as a suicide, but James finds the circumstances too unnatural to be believable.
It is now Day One for James. He looks further into the origin of The Empty Man. He reads into a cult called the Pontifix Institute that has beliefs originating from places like Bhutan, which would explain how the four friends came across Empty Man there. James goes to the Institute’s location, where leader Arthur Parsons (Stephen Root) speaks before a whole crowd. Afterwards, he talks to James and references Empty Man, referring to him as an entity that provides his followers with what they desire as long as they do his bidding.
Day Two – James starts following people associated with the Institute. He is led to a hospital where an older Paul is sitting in a vegetative state, but the people entering his room appear to be bowing and chanting something to him. The other detectives chastise James for getting involved in the case when he is retired. He later visits Nora, who is still worried about her daughter. James asks her if Amanda knew about the two of them apparently being together, but Nora says no.
James is led into the woods where he finds what looks like the entire cult hooded like Empty Man, stepping toward him closer and closer before they chase him. James runs to his car and escapes from the cult.
On Day Three, James finds Amanda, who is acting under the influence of the cult and Empty Man. She explains to James that an “empty man” with nothing to lose or gain is the perfect vessel to project Empty Man’s messages. She starts repeating “Where were you?” to James, as he is forced to relive the trauma that has been haunting him. On the night that Allison and Henry were killed, he was engaging in an affair with Nora. He has since blamed himself for not being there to have prevented it.
James, now fully drained of his consciousness and humanity, goes into the hospital to Paul’s room. He unloads his gun into Paul’s head. The doctors and nurses, all members of the cult, look to James as their new Empty Man.
Former detective James Lasombra investigates the disappearance of Amanda Quail, daughter of his close friend Nora. This happens after Amanda and her friends summon The Empty Man, an entity said to provide his followers with benefits if they do his bidding. In reality, he possesses those who summon him to carry out murders that look like suicides. Victims include Amanda's friends, who were all goaded into playing along with her for the Empty Man, unaware that she knew what she was doing.
The Empty Man is the work of a cult called the Pontifix Institute. After James investigates, he unwittingly summons the Empty Man and becomes haunted by him. After three days (the time it takes for The Empty Man to claim his victims), James finds Amanda, who says that they need an "empty man" with nothing to lose or gain to be a vessel for the Empty Man's bidding. James relives the trauma that caused him to quit being a detective - his wife Allison and son Henry were killed in a car accident that he feels he could have prevented if he wasn't engaging in an affair with Nora.
James becomes possessed and kills the current man being used as a vessel, thereby succumbing to the cult's desire to become their new Empty Man.