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The Empty Man’s Twist Ending Explained (What Are Tulpas?)

2020 the empty man features a twist ending that’s hard to crack, so what’s going on in the ending of your new cult favorite? The following is the empty man explained, including the meaning of Tulpa that drives its grim but sometimes vague plot. the empty man was originally filmed in 2017, but was shelved for a few years when its distributor was concerned about the film’s potentially confusing content. Indeed, when the empty man arrived in October 2020, where it was downloaded with little to no merchandising, most critics dismissed the intriguing psychological horror as an intricate but paradoxically all-too-familiar facsimile of goodbye manPG-13 disappointment slender manand numerous (supposedly) similar genre efforts.


However, in the year since its release, the film has been the subject of debate online due to its strange and hard-to-follow story. The plot is complex, but according to the film’s defenders, this only adds to the paranoid atmosphere evoked by the empty man, which has been favorably compared to works by David Lynch or John Carpenter. Critics and viewers are now divided on whether the film is an unannounced horror classic or just a confusing pseudo-philosophical genre departure, leading many horror fans to check it out and decide for themselves.

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Related: American Psycho Ending Explained: What Really Happened?

In cult hit the empty man, a group of friends go on a hike, and one of them (literally) stumbles upon a strange, misshapen skeleton in a cave. Soon after, all the members of the group kill each other thanks to a mind control trick, leaving only one survivor, Paul. Fast-forward over twenty years and a troubled former detective, James, is on the trail of a missing girl, Amanda. James tracks down Amanda’s friends who point her to the Pontifex Institute, while James sees plenty of references to the eponymous monster along the way and is haunted by the creepy long-limbed being in her dreams. Eventually, the film’s Shyamalan-esque twist reveals that James’s investigation has been a long-running scam by the cult. Here it is the empty man explained in full, with clarification on how deep the movie really is and why it gained so much traction since its initially disappointing release.

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The cult of the empty man and its goals

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To have the empty man explained begins largely with the film’s cult, the Pontifex Institute. They reveal their intentions early in the empty man (and repeatedly throughout the film), but his plot is bizarre and so existentially charged that most viewers may have trouble deciphering his intentions on first viewing. Essentially, the group is dedicated to bringing the titular urban legend to life. So far, they’ve been able to use Paul as a vessel ever since the unlucky hiker accidentally found the body of the Void Man in the ’90s. However, Paul is dying after years of existing as little more than a host for the monster, Which means the Scientology parody cult needs to make a new conduit for the Void Man, and fast.

Aware that any new vessel will be just as deadly (and therefore temporary) as poor Paul, the Pontifex Institute began investigating tulpas as an alternative, self-renewing way to bring the Void Man to life. The cult members offer all this information to James when he investigates them, but the question of how this works remains a mystery to him. That’s because James has no idea what a tulpa is, let alone that he himself is one.

Explanation of the meaning of Tulpa of the empty man

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As if to reaffirm the film’s cult potential and how legitimately weird the story is, the empty man‘s tulpas have not been seen in much popular fiction outside of the third season of twin peaks. twin peaks modified the tulpa concept a bit by having them designed in a lab, but tulpas show up in a lot of movies and stories. the empty man goes the more traditional tulpa route and explains that tulpas are a shared idea believed in by so many, and with such immense intensity, that it transcends imagination and becomes a flesh and blood reality. In layman’s terms, if enough people believe a tulpa is real, it will be.

The Empty Man himself is an example of this phenomenon. If the Pontifex Institute manages to generate enough belief in the tulpa, he will become physically real, capable of influencing the world, and then able to sustain himself. A comparable cultural institution that can help horror fans make sense of the premise is Freddy Krueger or the Candyman, who both derived their power from the people who believe in them. A more recent example of a tulpa is Mr. Babadook, the monster from the babadook, who is a manifestation of a children’s book idea that is believed so strongly that it becomes real.

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However, while viewers are not familiar with the concept of a tulpa being a villain as described above (although, to be pedantic, the other monsters mentioned existed before people imagined them), the empty man goes one step further. The final twist reveals that his hero is also a tulpa without him knowing it. In empty man, The Pontifex Institute created a tulpa in the form of James to be the new host for the Void Man, with the 2020 film’s somber ending showing them devoting all their brain power to creating a tragic yet believable backstory that ensured that James he would accept his role as the human form of the monster. This is much more in line with twin peaks use of tulpas, many of whom also have no idea that they are not human.

The Empty Man Ending Explained

The creepy final scene the empty man it may be the most confusing in the movie, but all the events add up once they are explained. First, James finally finds Amanda in a hospital, only to discover that she faked her disappearance as part of the Pontifex Institute’s grand scheme. She notes that the Void Man has invaded James’s thoughts, describing her presence as a “itchy brain”, and tells him to accept his fate. This destiny, Amanda reveals, is for James to replace Paul as the vessel of the Void Man. The villain reveals that James exists as a tulpa, a figment of the cult’s collective imagination. While this seems reminiscent of Bruce Willis’s death in The sixth Sense, James’s turn on the empty man being not quite human is not obvious upon re-watching.

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However, viewers have seen James interact with all kinds of people and watched him sit at home alone in many scenes as he reminisced about his tragic life. Was all that imaginary too? Yes and no is the simplest answer. When Amanda reveals the truth to James, he calls his mother, Nora, who hired him, and although he is a real person, he has never heard of James. He is then transported to his house, and although it is a real house, it is empty and uninhabited. At this point, it becomes clear that some of James’s interactions with other characters were “real”, but others were part of the backstory made up for him.

In classic Lovecraftian horror fashion, this revelation is too much for James, who willingly accepts the murky figure of the Void Man into his body once he discovers its true purpose. In the closing shots, James shoots a sick Paul in the head, having replaced him as the human host for the eponymous creature, and the hospital staff around him bow down, thus showing that the cult’s influence extends beyond of members previously seen at the Pontifex Institute. That is how the empty man it ends, with the hero discovering that he never existed outside of his connection to the titular monster and willingly becomes his human host.

Related: Color Out Of Space And Underwater Could Resurrect Lovecraftian Horror

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The director of The Empty Man wanted the somber ending

part of the reason the empty man it’s a bit confusing in a way that leaves a gloomy aftertaste that’s easily explained: it’s deliberate. Director David Prior, currently involved in the Guillermo del Toro film cabinet of curiosities, I wanted to create a movie that would stick with audiences, and one of the best ways to do that with horror is with a dark, chilling ending that raises questions that viewers feel they don’t necessarily want answers to. When asked about the ending in an interview (via Thrillist), Writer-director Prior was eager to share his thoughts on the ending, which was always in his the empty man vision. “I like movies that reward deeper analysis,Previous explained, “I think it’s absolutely necessary, and I’m not saying I’ve achieved this, but the goal is for it to work on a level like a night out at the movies, you have a good time, I hope you like it, and that’s it. But if you want to scratch scratches the surface a little bit, it rewards that pursuit in a number of different ways and on a number of different levels.”

In the same interview, Prior also revealed how the ending of the empty man It was always part of the plan when he set out to make the movie. “The general sentiment was always there,“, elaborated”,Finding myself back in the hospital, shooting Paul, recreating the Pontifex Institute logo on the back wall, and then turning around and seeing the hospital staff bow down to him was always the end of it from the moment I cast it.Prior clearly understands the cosmic horror subgenre, which works best when it’s full of mystery, intrigue and a bit of confusion. He cites HP Lovecraft as an influence, and the fact the empty man has gained such a cult following (unintentional pun) proves that Prior has hit the nail on the head in evoking the incredibly specific kind of horror that hit cosmic horror movies like Lovecraft’s adaptation color out of space generate. No news about a sequel to the empty man yet, but if it has Prior at the helm again, it will almost certainly leave audiences just as unsettled but intrigued as the first installment.

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Next: Into The Dark: Pooka Lives!: What is a Tulpa?

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