The Empty Man | Crooked Media
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February 20, 2024
Ruined with Alison Leiby and Halle Kiefer
The Empty Man

In This Episode

Halle and Alison go from a crevasse to a cult to ruin The Empty Man.

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

[AD BREAK]

 

[theme music]: If scary movies give you dread. Keep you up late night in bed, here’s a podcast that will help you ease your mind. We’ll explain the plot real nicely then we’ll talk about what’s frightening, so you never have to have a spooky time. It’s Ruined.

 

Halle Kiefer: Hey, everybody. Welcome to Ruined. I’m Halle. 

 

Alison Leiby: And I’m Alison.

 

Halle Kiefer: And this is a horror movie podcast where we ruin a horror movie just for you. 

 

Alison Leiby: Just for you guys. Halle, how are you? 

 

Halle Kiefer: Literally the exact same since we last spoke. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. Which was not long ago. 

 

Halle Kiefer: No, I wish I had anything interesting going on. I’m trying to, let’s see, no, cataloging my. Oh, nothing. I think January I’m just doing nothing. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Watching Drag Race, I’m in a Drag Race draft. 

 

Alison Leiby: Nice, that’s fun. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But I haven’t watched any of it yet, so I’m losing money, and. 

 

Alison Leiby: You should watch it. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Well, I don’t have a TV. I don’t have, like. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh no. Why did you join this draft?

 

Halle Kiefer: I wanted, I wanted to my friends were doing it, and I wanted to talk—

 

Alison Leiby: Participate. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But then I’m going to start going to, a gay bar because they’re screening it. So there’s something—

 

Oh that’s fun. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —about where it’s like, ending my Fridays alone at the gay bar watching Drag Race, but that sounds like heaven to me right now. 

 

Alison Leiby: Honestly, that sounds great. It feels like such a fun show to watch in public, too. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. How are you doing? 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. I’m fine. Not a lot going on here.

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. I’m sorry, I’m sorry everybody. 

 

Alison Leiby: [laughs] We don’t. We don’t have stuff happening. It’s January. I’m eating a lot of cottage cheese. I’m on that kick. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I believe you’ve already spoken about cottage cheese on the podcast recently—

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. I’m. I’m like. I’m like the ice bath for the face. The cottage. Like, those are my kind of big notes for what I’m up to. As we close out January.

 

Halle Kiefer: Devastating, yeah, this is [both speaking] we got to get out of the fucking house, man. This is tough. 

 

Alison Leiby: I know, I’m trying to think if I have, like, done anything or seen anything I like. 

 

Halle Kiefer: All I watch is horror movies and stay home, so no, I don’t. 

 

Alison Leiby: Alyssa bought me a shirt with Rizz on it.

 

Halle Kiefer: Thank you. Finally something to talk about it. Beautiful. Incredible. 

 

Alison Leiby: It looks like, kind of like a rapper or band T-shirt. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Do you want to be buried in it? You think? You think—

 

Alison Leiby: I absolutely want to be buried in it. That is my. My only request upon my death is that you put me in the Rizz shirt before you put me in the ground. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I will fight your parents. I don’t know why I said you would die before them. I apologize, but I will fight them to make that happen. I don’t. So I don’t know why immediately I was like the next six month.

 

Alison Leiby: They’ll probably outlive all of us. So, I don’t know. I got a cool, and then he, like, I put it down on the bed to take a photo of it, and he immediately jumped on it and laid on it. And I was like, do you know, that’s, you?

 

Halle Kiefer: No, he doesn’t know anything Alison.

 

Alison Leiby: He doesn’t. I hold him up to the mirror and I scream, that’s you. All the time.

 

Halle Kiefer: Okay, so that’s what you’re doing with your time. Okay. That’s more like what I was thinking was going on okay. 

 

Alison Leiby: How are you filling the days? Trying to understand if my pet has any concept of reflection. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You know, if anyone’s going to figure it out, it’s you, I think. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, but, like, cats think humans are just bigger cats. So I don’t know if he’s, like, aware of. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Right. 

 

Alison Leiby: I don’t know. I mean, I can’t tell if he’s smart or dumb, but he is my perfect little boy. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And that’s and your—

 

Alison Leiby: He likes the shirt, too. It’s Rizz approved. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Good. I’m so glad. 

 

Alison Leiby: So that’s it? That’s it. That’s all I got. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Halle Kiefer: This week’s movie, is The Empty Man is part of our cold month, and the movie starts cold, and then we move into sort of a rainy, element. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: In the beginning, we are, absolutely in a blizzard. And this is a movie that I had watched. It’s actually, it is, 2 hours and 16 minutes. I am on the record, and I will continue to be on the record as saying that a movie, especially a horror movie, does not need to be longer than 90 minutes, they almost never have to be some exceptions. I think the Suspiria remake, earned it. There’s other movies, obviously a little longer. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah they’re. Look, I mean, there are long movies that feel short, and there are short movies that feel long, but maybe we just start kind of trimming back these runtimes a little bit. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. And this movie up, I think, being sort of, it came out and it wasn’t really getting that’s what it was. It was initially going to come out during in October 2020. So there’s sort of a. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh I see. 

 

Halle Kiefer: A pandemic, problem where, the film was released, it was, $60 million budget and it grossed 4 million. But, I mean, any movie when they were, you know what I mean, like, that was just a mess for any movie. And I do have a lot of, you know, sympathy written and directed by David Prior. And, film there’s on Wikipedia like it received mostly negative reviews from critics and audience at the time. I actually ended up liking this. I will say, and then it oh, then later this thing is online. It got kind of more of a cult following, and I will I will, defend this movie. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: It is too long. And so there were, I would say about an hour left. I thought, we have got to get this Empty Man out here. We have. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: We got, we got to wrap this up with him. So, that being said, I did enjoy it. It is based, much like we just did 30 Days of Night. Or that will come out later. Unclear well 30 Days of Night will be coming out before or after this. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And, which is also based on a comic book. This is also based on a comic. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Created by Cullen Bunn and artist Vanesa R. Del Rey in 2014. And this to me, I think that. I would, love to actually read this comic book because I think that these, the elements that are brought up are expansive and complicated in a way that something like a comic book. That, to me makes more sense. So like a, you know. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: A narrative, where you can sort of play with different imagery and over a larger amount of written text versus some guy named Garrett telling it to you in a whole, you know, monologue, which I enjoyed as well. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. Sure. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But, yeah. So, and it’s interesting, reading this on the Wikipedia, is that like the in The Empty Man, comic book? It’s framed a little bit differently. In the description of the comic book says the so-called Empty Man disease causes insanity and violence. That’s really interesting because it’s not really we approach it from a different angle, but it is the same concept, something that is communicable. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And so The Empty Man, is you and me, Alison, and it is all of our listeners. So let us, get into it. We always like to have Alison watch the trailer, to get her takes. What are your thoughts about The Empty Man trailer? Alison?

 

Alison Leiby: Hmhm even the trailer a touch long. I mean, I didn’t get a sense of, like, exactly what the plot is here, but I do love anything that kind of centers on, like, an urban legend of, like. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes. 

 

Alison Leiby: Calling someone into, you know, your presence. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. Sign me up. As soon as I saw it, I’m like, absolutely. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, though, I can I can see how good it gets long. Just by the legend where it’s like the first day this happens, the second day that’s and it’s like, oh, it should just like be like, you call him and he comes like, I don’t know that we need, a week’s worth of kind of buildup. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But again. One of our of our favorite, most famous films, The Ring, we have a seven day lead up, and that they keep that moving. I’ll tell you— 

 

Alison Leiby: They do keep it moving, but, yeah, scare. Also like The Empty Man. Very scary phrase. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes. What does it mean? And a man already scary. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And to be empty? 

 

Alison Leiby: We also also like to take a baseline. Scary. And I’m trying to think of what to ask Alison. That is not giving away too much. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, I see. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Because there’s a lot in this, but it sort of unveils over time. How scary do you find the concept of, the collective unconscious? 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. Very. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Do you believe that such a thing could exist? 

 

Alison Leiby: No, but it’s a scary concept. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: Like you’re like, oh, what if it did, though? 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: Like, that’s like that. That’s the like. Boy, if that did exist, I would not be happy. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I think it’s one of those things like, again, just on Wikipedia, but, they, they have like, young and like you have archetypes. The problem ultimately and we’re seeing this, I think in society now is that like anytime you try to create an archetype or concept, you immediately start limiting and at least in, Western society, immediately start like making a hierarchy out of things. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So it’s sort of like the idea of, like archetypes of our society show up, you know, in our dreams or in our unconscious, like ideas that make sense. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: These are like, these are things that exist outside of, like, society as it exists right now that are somehow, you know, populated outside of our knowledge. That I don’t think is super helpful because it’s very I think it’s very societally specific. And obviously it’s like. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: There’s there’s a mother every society has a mother.

 

Alison Leiby: Or, right. Yeah, there are some things that are that are truly universal, but for the most part, there are real lines between like, oh, we don’t that’s not—

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And I don’t know, I just, I, you know, I think as all of us, as we all, look at the hierarchies exist in society today. There I think there is a lot of like, science or psychology being like, well, here’s how things are, rather than here’s a story we’re trying to, like, use these elements to describe something, which makes sense. And I think maybe that’s was the intent for some people, but then it’s like, don’t come and then tell everyone all this, when in reality it’s like, that’s like, you know what? One psychologist who was a it lived in Switzerland, you know. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: In the early 1900s thought about this. You know, not that we can’t draw from it. But this is a lot about entering into a group and sort of like trying to decide how you feel about the group’s ideas and a group that is pretty clearly a cult and sort of, our main character’s interaction with it. Which again, we also love. That’s a really excellent idea for a horror movie. And then finally, would you like to guess the twist? And there is a proper twist at the end of this bad boy. Alison, would you like to guess the twist in The Empty Man? 

 

[voice over]: Guess the twist. 

 

Alison Leiby: I mean, I’d love to guess, but it’s like I don’t have a ton of—

 

Halle Kiefer: Go with what you know. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. So it seems like you summon the Empty Man. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 

 

Alison Leiby: I’m going to guess that the people who the the group that ends up summoning him end up going with him to the other side of whatever the line between reality. And it’s like that. It was it was like proposed as a joke. But then they’re like, no, he actually just wanted to like. We’re choosing this. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Great. No, I love it. That’s perfect. It’s a great job. 

 

Alison Leiby: I guess we’ll see him. 

 

Halle Kiefer: All right, let’s begin. Ruining, The Empty Man. We open on the Ura Valley in Bhutan in 1995, and we hear at the beginning of this low singing, voice, we see four American white people. Greg, Fiona, Ruthie and Paul are hiking up the mountains in this valley. Gorgeous, beautiful forest. They wave at sort of a truck full of Buddhist monks as they drive past. They hike higher and higher, and they find a shrine with, Buddhist prayer wheels. And finally they get to a rope bridge, which I can, I unless—

 

Alison Leiby: Not in a million years. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And this one’s very sturdy and looks very well-maintained, but I it’s over a gigantic, terrifying ravine. Alison. 

 

Alison Leiby: I can’t. Heights are like. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes, I concur. 

 

Alison Leiby: I’d rather, like, spend like, a night in a coffin. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Oh, yeah. Oh, you got to spend a night in a coffin. 100%

 

Alison Leiby: Than walk across a rope bridge. 

 

Halle Kiefer: My two fears. One heights. Two. And we’ve discussed this on the pod at some point leaving a baby in a car. Which is funny because I don’t have a baby and I don’t have a car. 

 

Alison Leiby: You don’t have access to a baby. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But there’s something about that that is so terrifying to me. 

 

Alison Leiby: No it is very. It’s just like. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Because it’s an undoable. It’s like, if I get hurt, if I fall from a height, well, it’s just me. You leave a baby in a car, you walk outside, it’s like, oh, no, the baby. That’s insane. [both speaking] Everyone in this, everyone in the movie, everyone in this movie is braver than than we are. So they cross the bridge. The bridge is fine. And we see on the screen day one, they climb higher and higher. And it’s incredible views, mountains, forests, gorges. And they see in the distance a storm coming in and they said, oh, it’s getting stormy. Let’s climb back down. Basically it’s like they’re five miles from the nearest town. Like they’re they’re in the middle of nowhere. Paul stops them and says, do you hear that? And it sounds almost like a humming or a ringing, like a low tone. And he attempts to sort of follow it they’re on this flat rock surface at the top of one of the mountain peaks. He walks across the rock face and he falls directly into crevasse. 

 

Alison Leiby: You hate a crevasse. 

 

Halle Kiefer: The the other three run over to him and they’re like, are you okay, buddy? Alison, it is a jet black pit into the top of a mountain. He’s probably not great. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. No.

 

Halle Kiefer: But obviously they’re pros. They wouldn’t be doing this if they were not, hikers. So, Greg, spelunks down into the darkness with their, equipment. Paul is not at the bottom of the crevasse. Instead of the bottom of cross are a million little cave crickets crawling around, which is a disgusting but really excellent addition to this, where I’m like, oh, there’s bugs now. Great. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, it’s not just that you, like fell and you’re maybe injured and possibly stuck. Also bugs. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes. Greg sort of wanders into the adjoining cave. And so you find is is Paul sitting cross-legged? Sort of a prayer, staring at the skeleton of a gigantic humanoid creature set into the wall. Sort of a fossilized—

 

Alison Leiby: Real skeleton? 

 

Halle Kiefer: A real skeleton. This person is 15, 20ft tall. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And we see wings attached to the back, so we see the bones of the wings. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay, great. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Not it. Greg does not spend enough time freaking out about this. If you ask me.

 

Alison Leiby: I. That’s all I’d be freaking out about. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But he does ask a great question. What is this? Which I it’s a great question to start with. He goes over to Paul, who’s looks nearly catatonic, but he whispers to Greg, if you touch it, you’ll die. And Greg’s like, okay, well, let’s get the fuck out of here, then. 

 

Alison Leiby: Let’s not touch it then.

 

Halle Kiefer: He tries to help Paul up but Paul’s shuddering, crying. He is breaking down and the girls are up top are calling for an update. So Greg has to physically carry Paul out. And the cave is so full of crickets. So you’re hauling your like catatonic best friend out crickets everywhere. And you just saw the body of a demon, or an angel, or an alien stuck into the wall of this ancient crevasse that maybe no one’s ever been in for, like, 500 years, you know? 

 

Alison Leiby: Aye.

 

Halle Kiefer: They get back up, they pass over the rope bridge again, but the storm is coming in, and Greg has to physically carry Paul, like, over his shoulders. And it’s very slow going to the point where they have to take a break. And Greg says, I don’t know if I could do this. We’re going to drag him or something. I can’t carry him. Fortunately, Ruthie wanders over to look over the ridge and sees a little house, and they run over to it. It’s obviously a house set up for hikers, so it’s like there’s a stove. It’s it’s they can make a fire and be warm, but nobody lives there. It’s just like for people to stop in as they go hiking, which I feel like is a thing in Europe as well. Like I feel like a lot of places have that America. I feel like we don’t have we’re not allowed to have that. We this is our society—

 

Alison Leiby: No, because everyone has a gun. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Unfortunately. Yeah. You just go in there and immediately get shot. So they go in and they take Paul inside, lay him down and they sort of start to like, check him, but there’s no obvious problems. And, Greg says, let’s get his clothes off and let’s look. He says, let’s look for insect bites. But I was like, I would be much more likely to assume he had a head injury for the way he’s been acting. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Insect bites.

 

Alison Leiby:  I mean, like, sure. Like, that’s a good thing to be like, as we move through this, let’s also keep an eye out for that. But like, it wouldn’t be my first guess. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Alison. In Paul’s clenched hand, he. They finally find what looks like a, a bone flute. So it’s a piece of bone, sort of decorative ends, and, it’s it looks like it’s made of a human bone. And, Paul, it’s just clutched in Paul’s hand, and they sort of, sort of put that aside to deal with that later. And Greg sees that Paul has sort of, you know, like self-harm marks on his wrist. And he asks Ruthie, well, how’s Paul’s been doing? And Ruthie, like, takes it to an 11 in a way where it’s like, okay, so Paul wasn’t doing well. Like, if you’re because it’s like if this was like, you—

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: —be able to talk about it or if this is from his past, it’s like, well, yeah. Like he, you know, he’s had depression or whatever. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But she’s like, he’s been fine. It’s like, okay. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Not helpful right now. Meanwhile, Fiona goes to get water from a stream and sees the storm is like basically about to be on top of them. So they all argue when they get back and Ruthie’s panicking, sort of like, well, what if Paul hit his head? What if he needs internal bleeding we have to go to hospital. Greg says there’s a storm. We are five miles still from any road and I can’t carry him in a blizzard. He looks fine. He’s breathing, you know. He’s let him sleep. I think we’re going to be fine. Also, if he’s not, there’s nothing we can do about it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Correct. 

 

Halle Kiefer: That night, Greg and Fiona go and sleep in one of the other rooms. They all have sleeping bags and stuff, so they have, like, warm stuff. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And Ruthie is sort of holding vigil for Paul, which I get too, like, just making sure nothing happens in the night. She picks up the bone flute and sort of absentmindedly blows across it like you’d blow across the top of a bottle and it goes, whoo.

 

Alison Leiby: Not great. Not a good move. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And we realized that that was the sound that Greg heard on the top of the mountain that sort of drew him to the crevasse. She doses off Alison, and when she awakens, she hears someone walking outside the cabin. She goes to check on Fiona and Greg. They’re fast asleep, and then the the walking seems to disappear. In the morning, it turns out they’re completely snowed in. And on the screen we see day two. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So fortunately, because they had packed well, they have food, so they’re able to cook and make a fire. So they’re fine. Other than the fact that Gregg has some sort of mountain madness or something. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: They’re okay. Right. So Fiona and Greg they get dressed and say we’re going to go check out like what it looks like. Can we get out of here? You stay here. We’ll be back. We also see there’s a bunch of goats running around outside, so the goats seem fine. Alison, it’s like blizzarding outside and out the window. In the distance. Ruthie sees a figure approaching. She runs outside to be like, oh, do you own the house? Maybe you’re from here. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Like, oh, are you a local? Can you help us? Yes. Alison. We see through the white, but the figure is wearing a hooded, dark shroud that billows in the window. 

 

Alison Leiby: I mean, it’s just it’s not like I’m here to help outfit. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Well, this is, we haven’t done a limerick in a while. 

 

Alison Leiby: I mean. 

 

Halle Kiefer: If they’re wearing a shroud. Shit’s gonna get loud. 

 

Alison Leiby: I like that. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Does that mean anything? No. 

 

Alison Leiby: I think it does. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So obviously Ruthie stops and looks this person, it’s obviously a ghost or a spirit or something, and you could hear its footsteps crunching in the snow. So it is material. And then the figure starts running towards her, and Ruthie has managed to get inside, locks the door and then hears furious banging and Greg and Fiona calling to her from outside the door. But of course—

 

Alison Leiby: They were asleep inside. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Well, so they had gone to look at the ridge. So they are outside. But how do you know if it’s them or not? Right. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: First versus is this something using their voice? But she’s like, fuck, it opens the door. Thank God it’s actually George and Fiona. But they do have bad news. They’re completely snowed in. They literally can’t get down the side of the mountain. Like they’re going to get in an avalanche. It’s impossible. Ruthie starts screaming. It’s like we have to get out of here. I saw this thing in the snow. We’re like, it’ll be fine. We’ll stay together. We didn’t see anything out there. I. I think maybe we’re just all really upset, and I understand that. So we’ll get through it and then we’ll leave tomorrow. You know, in the middle of the night, Alison, we get this terrifying shot. One of my favorite shots in the movie where Ruthie is asleep and we hear this, like, low whispering, and then we see Paul. Paul is up and crouched over her and is whispering in her ear while she’s asleep. Frantically—

 

Alison Leiby: No. Uh uh. I don’t like that. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Alison. When they all wake up in the morning, Paul is gone. His jacket is missing. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And there are footsteps out into the white of the day. Luckily, it’s not snowing any more, but it’s like—

 

Alison Leiby: But it’s still ton of snow. Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Alison. Day three. This is. If this happens to me, if I’m Paul at this point, just leave my ass and you guys go, yeah. Like if I’m gone, just leave me. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Truly. Don’t don’t don’t do what’s about to happen. But of course, they follow the footsteps back to the rope bridge, which actually is in the right direction. So it’s not they’re not losing time. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And Paul is sitting much like, Greg found him sitting, cross legged in, in the cave, and he is sitting at the foot of the bridge blowing the bone flute. Whooo. Greg of course freaks out was like, what the fuck are you doing? You scared everybody. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. What the fuck are you doing? [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: But Fiona’s trying to be nice to Paul, and it’s like, well, so what’s wrong, sweetheart? And Greg and Fiona start going at each other. It’s like. Everyone, please, the Empty Man is going to show up. We have to hold it together for each other.

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. We haven’t even gotten to the Empty Man yet. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, unfortunately. Paul looks up at Greg and he’s sort of whispering, and Greg sort of bends down to see what Paul saying. And when he does Ruthie takes out a knife. Okay, stabs Greg, and then slashes Fiona’s throat before pushing both of them into the ravine. 

 

Alison Leiby: What the fuck? 

 

Halle Kiefer: And we see Ruthie with—

 

Alison Leiby: And Ruthie’s the one who had blown on the flute too? 

 

Halle Kiefer: She blew on the flute. She blew on the flute, and she saw the shrouded figure. And she turns back to Paul and they sort of make eye contact. And the image distorts for a second. And. And Ruth allows herself to fall backwards into the ravine. And Paul then proceeds to continue blowing on the bone flute. Title card, The Empty Man, Alison and I said that and I said, after seeing this. Hell yeah. That’s how you fucking do it. 

 

Alison Leiby: That’s how you start a horror movie. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Unfortunately, I still like the movie, but like, I was like, okay, great, we’re going to be in the mountains. It’s going to be snowy. Like, I was on board with all the touch points. 

 

Alison Leiby: For sure. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But we are now moving to 2018 and we are in Webster Mills, Missouri, and we are meeting our protagonist, James Lasombra, who was a retired detective who now owns a security company. Like a small town security company. We see him going for a jog. He lights up a cigarette. And I will say, this is a lot of bridges in in this movie. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And I do love that because Saint Louis is a very like, there’s a ton like, it’s a bridge town. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: There’s a river, a beautiful river. 

 

Alison Leiby: A lot of bridges. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And so, I did appreciate the bridges. Bridges motif and then a lot of bridge scenes that were all. 

 

Alison Leiby: That’s nice. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Beautifully done. But as he runs, he smokes. He’s haunted by a woman’s voice, a woman’s voice saying, where were you? Where were you? We see him go to a security shop. This woman’s like trying to buy pepper spray. He’s like, let me get you this other one. It’s cheaper and it works better. You don’t have to shake it, okay? Because when you’re in those moments, you’re not going to want to shake it. You’re not gonna remember. We see he, like, makes keys and sells security cameras. He does it all in this town. He also, goes, to a Mexican restaurant and just starts taking shots of tequila alone. After after getting lunch and we see him, he takes out a birthday coupon. It’s his birthday, and he’s drinking alone, and he gives it to the waitress for the meal, and, he’s like, I just want to use this. And then here’s the tip. I take the tip, you know? And as he’s sitting there, the waitress comes back with all the waitstaff, and they give him a piece of birthday flan, and they sing happy birthday. And he’s humiliated. 

 

Alison Leiby: Birthday flan. 

 

Halle Kiefer: It did make me want birthday flan. 

 

Alison Leiby: I do like flan. 

 

Halle Kiefer: James drives home, he gets the mail, and he sees in his backyard Amanda, who’s a teen girl from his town, and he says, how’s your mom doing? So there’s obviously something that happened, something in the past with, sorry, with James and Amanda’s mother. And she says, my mom sent me to come check on you. It’s, you know, we know it’s like almost a year anniversary. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Alison Leiby: So we find out the reason that they’ve kind of, been bonded to one another. They’d known each other before. But last year, Amanda’s father. So her mother, you know, her mother’s name is Nora. So Nora’s husband, died right around when James’s wife and son, Alison and Henry also died in a car accident. So two families, decimated by tragedy and brought together by grief. So he’s sort of like a paternal figure in Amanda’s life, you know, not not full on stepdad, but, you know, someone who’s around that she feels comfortable talking to him, unfortunately. And I think what’s sad is like, this has happened, like this conversation with a loved one before where, you know, it was like, you know, it’s been a year and like, it’s been really hard. But she tells him—

 

[clip of Sasha Frolova]: I found something so wonderful. So freeing. And it’s helped me to realize that nothing can hurt you because nothing is real. 

 

Halle Kiefer: It’s like, it’s a cult isn’t it? And it’s interesting like what themes that emerge for the cult because it’s obviously Scientology. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But there’s also like it’s a critique of say Buddhism or it’s a critique of all religion, but it’s like it is also, I think playing on these ideas of like the collective unconscious. But she’s come over like, actually, you don’t have to be sad that your whole family fucking horribly died in a on a snowy night, because nothing is real. It’s like, well. And James is like, well, you know, a lot of things are real. And she says, well, how could you know that? And James says, well, I had to learn the hard way. It’s like, well, yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: Like I’m alive. 

 

Halle Kiefer: What is real? Sure. In some sense, but in other words, yeah, we all live in the world and we see things that happen. I don’t know. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah stuff happens. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And she says, well, you know, you know, like the power of positive thinking. It’s like, well, we think about with repetition and intention, we manifest. He’s like, okay, we have heard of the secret. But she says, what if those thoughts didn’t come from us? What if those thoughts came from somewhere else. And it could give us like these the important, powerful, singular thoughts. What if there’s a way to get thoughts from somewhere else? Just then her mom leaves. James doesn’t give her a chance to reply and she says to James, can I tell my mom I saw you? And he’s like, that’s totally fine. So clearly there’s some connection between James and Nora. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But they are on the outs, so they’re no longer in communicate. And I know it’s been a rough year for everybody, so, you know, we’ll find out what happened. And James says thank you for checking in on me, and Amanda leaves. We go up to bed. He’s also drunk. Like every night we see him. He’s obviously drinking for hours alone. And we hear his wife. What we now know it’s his wife Alison’s voice saying, Where were you? And we see a flash of them together in the park. And, then a flashing police light. We get shots of like a dangling rosary from a rearview window. 

 

Alison Leiby: Sure. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Referencing a car accident, obviously. He goes, he takes his medication. Doxepin, which I believe is anti depressant. But look, I mean, if your whole family dies in a car accident, oh, used to treat anxiety or depression, so. Oh, yeah. And insomnia well that’s quite a wonder drug. We’re not being paid. It’s just they show the label. [both speaking] That’s why I looked it up. Yeah. So, he’s obviously medicated. We see his wedding ring is in the medicine cabinet. We also see on the screen. Alison. Day one, over at their place. Amanda’s mom, Nora, calls up to Amanda. You got to eat. I’m taking you to school. So she’s like, as junior, a senior, like, older in high school. She says, come down here, please. She goes up to her daughter’s room, which has an en suite bathroom. She walks in the bathroom and gasps. We see her call James. James arrives. Nora shows him Amanda is gone. And written on the blood in the mirror in blood. It says, The Empty Man made me do it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh boy.

 

Halle Kiefer: They call the police. The police arrive. They take sample statements. We see that the image of a seated praying man, which you’ve already seen in 1995, sort of reoccurring. She has a lot of artwork where she’s drawing the seated praying man. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. Okay.

 

Halle Kiefer: And the cops are like, oh, wait, James, you used to be a cop, right? I heard about you. You’re out of the force now, so good thing you could call us it. Just cop, cop bullshit. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And so they start to try to ask Nora, like how Amanda was doing. And Nora, of course, doesn’t say that, which we already saw Ruthie did like it’s perfect. Our religion is perfect. Amanda is doing great. It’s like, you don’t have to do that. She’s gone. Like. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But it is hard. I mean, in the past, like, they would just tell you that you disci— I mean like, I’m sure, they’re like right away. And so she doesn’t want to admit that. Which I totally understand. But you know what? Recently Amanda was crying in class and the school did have to call Nora, but also her dad died. It doesn’t seem that crazy. To be like a teenager is really emotional one day. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: That’s normal. Right? 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And also, like, stress of school. But they tell her look, totally. Okay, so Amanda is 18, so technically she’s legally an adult, and she did appear to take her suitcase. So I wonder what they’re about to say is. So we’re not really going to do anything. Nora, of course, flips out and was like, she is my child. She wouldn’t have left like this. We weren’t fighting. It wasn’t like that. And the cops say, we’ll see what we could do. The implication being like. 

 

Alison Leiby: We’re not gonna do anything. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Meanwhile, we see many other cops is going through Amanda’s diary and he sort of whispers to the other officer talking to Nora, who asks her, do you have any pets? She says, no. The cops are like, oh, that’s fine, no reason. We sort of want to ask. Meanwhile, James then takes a look at Amanda’s diary because he’s there, you know, kind of checking out the room as well. And he finds a flier for the for the Pontifex Institute, which again, I immediately connect. I assume it was Scientology, right? And he sees written in her diary. He’s here, he’s there. He’s every fucking where. And he asked Nora, who’s he? And she’s like, I don’t know, like Amanda does a lot of poetry and stuff. Like, I always assume it’s her dad. You know, I mean, like, you know, when you read that, it’s like, that could be your dead father. 

 

Alison Leiby: 100%. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Like, you’re working through some stuff, and, the cops leave eventually and say, they’ll be in touch, and Nora says, Why did they ask about pets? And James says. Well, I think they’ve they think maybe that the blood on the mirror isn’t human. They think it might be animal blood. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And I’m like, I guess it’s better because a human wasn’t injured. But also. Oh, no. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh no. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Nora lights up. Everybody smokes in this movie. And it looks so goddamn good. Which is another thing where I’m like ugh. 

 

Alison Leiby: It’s such a good horror movie. Like. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: It tells you all about, like, where someone’s at. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes, absolutely. 

 

Alison Leiby: I like where it’s like, okay, got it. Know where their guy, like, know what their whole deal is? 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. It’s either these two who’s like, daughter or Sarah, his step daughter has disappeared or you see people in the cult, we eventually meet up with who? They’re in a cult. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So they’re out smoking all the time. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And James is like, look, I used to be a cop. Their theory is Amanda is distressed. You guys had a fight. She’s acting out to hurt you, but she’s probably going to just come back and be fine, which actually is. I read this thing where it’s like, that is what happens most of the time, like, but it’s just like, you just don’t know, right? 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. And if it’s, it’s that if it’s that small percentage of the time, that’s not it. That it’s like a tragedy, you know. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Exactly. And then, you know, so Nora says they aren’t going to do anything. We both know it. So I’m going to need you to do it. Would you essentially be a private investigator and find my daughter? Alison, I got to ask, what would you do at this point? 

 

[voice over]: What would you do? 

 

Halle Kiefer: And I want to clarify, I’m not saying if you were James. I’m saying if you were, if you were Alison Leiby, what would you be doing? Would you take this on? 

 

Alison Leiby: No. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: I would, but with the idea of like? Just, you know, I will be murdered by a cult by the end of this. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I would like. I will be thrown in a ravine, I know that. 

 

Alison Leiby: I mean, I guess it would be like. It would be something to focus on. You know. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You’re right get you out of your house. 

 

Sometimes like, having, like, a specific task. You can kind of, like, shake you into a good place, but I don’t think that that really happens here.

 

Halle Kiefer: No, but I’d be optimistic. I really like that. That that’s a good point. 

 

Alison Leiby: Like that. You know, it’s like giving you purpose in life and, like, giving you something to kind of, like, spend your waking hours thinking about, like, yeah, yeah, I guess I would just to kind of be like, what else am I doing? 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, absolutely. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Halle Kiefer: So James takes it on. Obviously he he’s connection to this family. So he’s going to try to find Amanda. So he goes he has Nora give her him a list of her closest friends. And he goes outside the high school. And when he sees one of them, Davara, coming over, she says, oh, are you friends with Amanda? Can I talk to you? Because everyone knows that she’s missing. Now it’s all over school, and Davara says, can I have a cigarette? He says, yes, you can sit in the car. And so he sets his phone to record. So he’s always recording everything, which is smart. And so she sits in his pickup truck and they smoke a cigarette and he says, well, you know, Nora said that she was really upset and crying the other day in class, and Davara says, she wasn’t crying in class she was screaming. That’s what they. The cops came in already talked to them about it. And I told them. 

 

Alison Leiby: Screaming? 

 

Halle Kiefer: She was screaming. Meanwhile, Davara keeps looking out the window like really scared. Nervous. We see, like other kids looking in the window. We’re not sure who exactly she’s looking at. She’s like, look cops already came. I told them everything I know. I don’t know where she is. And James says well, in that case, can you tell me something about The Empty Man? And she’s like. 

 

[clip of Samantha Logan]: Some story sort of going around that if you went to a bridge after dark, you found an empty bottle. If you blew into it, you thought about him. Something would happen.

 

Halle Kiefer: And he says, so did you do that? And Davara says, two days ago we did. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So we see Amanda and Davara. 

 

Alison Leiby: And we’re on date like we—

 

Halle Kiefer: So this is day one for James. It’d be day two for. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Amanda. So she’s a day ahead of her. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Much like the ring. Like, it’s like people are kind of staggered, but. Yeah, it’s day two for Amanda. She’s disappeared. And day two to remember. Well, we’ll get into what those different days mean, but, basically, Davara tells us that she and Amanda went with their other friends, Lisa, Duncan, Meyer and Brandon and that bitch Jillian we can’t stand, which I appreciated, that they go to the bridge and they, like, go down under the bridge, which I would not do this shit. But obviously a teenager doing whatever. Like you could pull a manhole up and then get into, like a utility catwalk. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So I’m assuming they go down there like, give each other blowjobs or whatever. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, it’s not for me, but, like, I get it. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Right. Exactly.

 

Alison Leiby: For teens. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You’re just smoking weed down there. Yeah. So they, most of them crawl back up and Amanda and Brandon  are talking and and Amanda tells her to, like, she tried to commit suicide after her dad died. And she’s like, yeah, look at my scars. But she goes, psych, these are just scars from when I roller bladed into a plate glass window. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh my God. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And they’re like, oh. And she says, you know, if I were to kill myself, I’d do it the proper way. As they walk across the bridge, Alison, Amanda spots a bottle and she’s the one who explains The Empty Man legend. She says, you know, the first night you’ll hear him coming for you, and you can’t stop thinking about him. The second night you’ll see him following you. And then a third night he finds you. Davara and Jillian both want to leave. I was like, Jillian may be a bitch, but she’s right about this. 

 

Alison Leiby: No, she’s right you should definitely leave. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, but Duncan grabs the bottle and blows and everyone kind of peer pressures each other to do it. Davara is the last one, and she’s like, this is bullshit. This is stupid kid stuff. But of course, you’re like, oh, it’s kid stuff then why are you afraid of it? She goes, whoo. And then, like, just hands it like a little hoot, which is very funny. 

 

Alison Leiby: Bring peer pressured into, like. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Summoning a demon? 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. Summoning  a demon. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. And, she then gives a bottle to Amanda, who has already done it, but then goes again and sits in the middle of the bridge and blows on the bottle again, clearly hoping it’s actually real. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah.

 

Halle Kiefer: And she whispers The Empty Man. The Empty Man starts thinking, thinking about it, and they all sort of stare into the darkness. The end of bridge. It’s just a footbridge. So like the end is total darkness as it goes into the forest and the wind starts flowing into here in the darkness, a distant rattling sound, the sound of a bottle falling over and then footsteps running towards them. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So everyone hauls out of there. At least they escape. And, they all go home. And now that she’s in James’s car, Davara tells them. At the mall the next day, I saw Amanda whispering to Brandon, so this was yesterday. She’s like, I saw Amanda whispering to Brandon, much like how we saw Paul whispering in Ruthie’s ear, like, just so it’s just like I. [whispers] And Davara saw that it was scared. But again, she’s a teenager. She’s like, I didn’t know. I didn’t say anything to her. I just like, walked away. Meanwhile, we see her looking out the window and we see five kids sitting cross-legged praying on the sidewalk. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And she gets out and gives him the other kids addresses and says, oh, this is where Brandon lives and walks off, clearly terrified. He. Then James then goes to Brandon’s house. Alison Brandon is also missing. 

 

Alison Leiby: Not great. 

 

Halle Kiefer: He goes to Lisa Schwartz’s house. No one’s home. Or are they? No, they’re not. But the TV is on. It’s playing Spartacus. And one of the characters says, what did he say? The god is coming, a new god. So I appreciated that little, you know, sprinkle. He goes into his nobody’s home doors home, and he goes to Lisa’s bedroom. She also has, like, pamphlets from the Pontifex Institute. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And it says, would you like to see the world in a whole new way? And he goes in the backyard, and he finds that Schwartz’s dog has been murdered, its throat cut. So that’s where we got the blood. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: James calls Nora and says, okay, so all of Nora’s friends are also missing. Except for Davara. She’s, you know, and, and then I was like, well, we’ll get to it tomorrow. And she and he asks her, did Amanda ever bring up the Pontifex Institute but Nora, no, I don’t even I never heard of this. And he’s like, okay, well, I found it. I’m going to investigate it. Thinking naturally, it’s like, okay, great. Due to the grief with her father, she and these kids found out about this thing, and now they’re, like, getting sucked into a cult, which, unfortunately, has happened and does happen when people are in crisis, you know? 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: James goes down to the footbridge where, the summoning took place to sort of check it out and see, like, if there’s any evidence about where they all might have gone. And he walks across a bridge. Alison. He picks up a bottle and he absentmindedly just blows across it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Is that like a natural like. Would you—

 

Halle Kiefer: That’s what the movie suggests I would never pick a dirty bottle off the ground. 

 

Alison Leiby: I certainly wouldn’t put it up to my mouth. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Put it near any of my soft apertures and blow on it. To what end? Like. And then also you are required to think of The Empty Man. But I’m assuming he is. If he’s doing it, it’s like, oh, I this process is making me think of him naturally. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Alison. As soon as he does it all the sound in the movie cuts out. 

 

Alison Leiby: Woah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So no insects, no distant train, no birds, and then it returns. But for one split second. Clearly, something has happened. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: He finds the manhole where we saw the kids climbing out of, and he opens a manhole and climbs down onto the utility catwalk, and he finds all of Amanda’s friends dead hanging, having hung themselves from the bottom of the bridge. 

 

Alison Leiby: My God. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And written on a beam across their bodies, it says, The Empty Man made me do it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Wait. Why are we assuming that they’ve hung them? Just that they’ve been hanged? Not like. 

 

Halle Kiefer: They’ve been hanged you’re right. We. It appears to be suicide, but we don’t know yet. We have no evidence yet about what actually happened. So he calls the cops, they come to pull the bodies up, and they’re also like dredging the water, being like, did Amanda fall? Like, was she also there? And, like, maybe she fell off of here? No, Amanda, obviously everyone in town is devastated. Like this horrible thing. They’re trying to figure out what’s happening, and James takes out the Pontifex flier and his nose starts bleeding. So he’s constantly returning to, like, he’s having nosebleeds throughout the movie. We then see Davara at a spa, which sounds heavenly. 

 

Alison Leiby: I would love to be at a spa right now. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And she undresses and goes in into the steam room. And I will say that is the one thing. As a teenage girl, I would not have done like there’s no one else there, so maybe I would have done it totally nude. But like the way she does it, I was like, she’s still a teen girl. You’d still be like. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You’re, you know, like, I’ll have my towel. Like there’d be a level of like—

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You know what I mean? Self-consciousness. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Unfortunately, Alison, as a steam fills the room, a hooded, shrouded figure appears and approaches Davara, and before she can even react, it lifts a pair of scissors and stabs her in the face over and over again. 

 

Alison Leiby: Look. There’s a lot of ways you can die. I don’t want that to be how I do. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Top five ways I don’t want to die stabbing myself repeatedly in the face with scissors. I agree. Unfortunately, when we cut to what’s really happening, Davara is stabbing herself in the face. So in her mind, she is seeing the shrouded figure. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes, but in reality she’s—

 

Halle Kiefer: Exactly. she collapses, dying, and the hooded figure, closes her eyes. Right. So down the station, James is talking to one of the detectives. Detective, Villiers. I want to say,  or Villiers. 

 

Alison Leiby: Sure. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And who tells him Davara also is dead. So everyone except Amanda is dead from that friend group who was on the bridge that night. Except Amanda is still missing. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And the detective says we think it was a suicide. She stabbed herself in the face, and James says people don’t die that way. Like, that’s not—

 

Alison Leiby: That’s not a way that that’s—

 

Halle Kiefer: That’s insane. And detective says exactly my point. Like, we know this is fucked up. We know something is happening. But then they’re like, is it a cult thing? Like and spoiler, it is attached to a cult, obviously, but but they don’t know about the shrouded figure. We have a little more intel at this point. So James leaves and, the detective tells him before James leaves. The detective tells him. Three weeks ago in Maryville, a woman fed her infant to a pack of stray dogs. 

 

Alison Leiby: What the fuck?

 

Halle Kiefer: Claiming claiming that the baby was whispering to her. And in the kitchen she wrote, The Empty Man made me do it, and we found the same written on the tile next to Davara’s body in her own blood. So needless. He’s like, okay, so needless to say, he’s the detective is thinking it’s a serial killer. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes.

 

Halle Kiefer: So he’s like, we got to catch this bastard—

 

Alison Leiby: That’s like the first logical thought.

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes, absolutely. Like The Empty Man. You know, it’s a Ted Bundy, whatever this guy’s like wilding out, but he’s like, the thing about catching even if we catch this guy. Like, we’ll never solve these kinds of crimes because, like, there is no logic to them. He’s like, we can’t indict the cosmos. Like, that’s the problem is, like, we can catch an individual who’s doing evil thing or like bad things. But what creates this is something out of our control, which I think is an interesting point and a kind of what I think, Twin Peaks is about like it’s sort of like the uncontrolled. We try to talk about good and evil because we don’t understand both the cosmos but also ourselves, why we do certain things. So but he’s like, we got to find this guy. This guy’s out here killing people and making people feed their baby to the devil or whatever, or to dogs. That night, James listens to his recording with Davara, and he looks at the, Pontifex Institute. No surprise here. He finds a Wikipedia. It says on a Wikipedia article that it is a doomsday cult. And on the page the content index says here are the entries. Opposition and controversies. History of the Pontifex Institute. Cave outside Aqaba. Jordan. Ura Valley Bumthang. The move to Saint Louis. The Pontifex Society and the occult. Which I did think it was funny. It’s like we’re in Jordan. We’re in Bhutan. And then, baby, we’re in beautiful Saint Louis. 

 

Alison Leiby: Saint Louis Missouri. 

 

Halle Kiefer: See you in Saint Louis. A cult that is calling to the Empty Man. We also see a section called incident in the Missouri Woods, and I did like how they did this, because it reminded me of, you know, within Blair Witch, you have sort of like the other stories, like. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You know, the incident at, Coffin Rock, like, if that’s not the inciting incident, but like, the the like this—

 

Alison Leiby: They’re related crisis. Catastrophes yeah.

 

Halle Kiefer: And so in this one, in 1991, six young men murdered each other in the last one, died by suicide, in a cabin in the woods in the Mark Twain National Forest in an attempt to allegedly manifest a tulpa. Now, have you heard of a tulpa before? 

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And I feel like this was like a sort of, back when conspiracy theories, like cryptids were just getting started. There were a lot of tulpa talk. 

 

Alison Leiby: I have never heard that word before. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So it has it. Luckily, in the movie he looks at Wikipedia like this guy. I like the cut of his jib. This is what exactly what I, I he’s just he would go to your local library. He’s just like looking up Wikipedia which which. 

 

Alison Leiby: You know what? That’s all we need. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And then written he sees on the back of Amanda’s Pontifex flier. It says the word tulpa. So like, she’s like, okay, so she was involved in this. So basically according to the Wikipedia article in this movie, a tulpa, which is a concept taken from Tibetan Buddhism, is the idea that you could create a materialized being in the real world, typically a human created through spiritual practice and intense concentration. So the idea that like the human mind can manifest a person or an entity or a creature just by thinking about it. And the equation on Wikipedia is thought plus concentration plus time equals flesh. Now, of course, that’s an interesting concept. And in this movie we’re taking it literally, right? I mean, like, I’m sure, I’m sure within, Buddhism that’s, you know, there’s a—

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, like that. That’s what it means. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes. We’re taking it much like, I mean, like Catholicism in the, in The Exorcist. Like we are lit. The devil is literally here. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Nora calls him just to check in and she says, actually, I’m outside. I got dinner so soon as she walks in, she’s holding dinner. She just burst into tears. And haven’t we all had those, entrances into our friends and loved ones homes? And she’s crying and she’s like, I’m sorry I’m crying. And he says, you don’t have to apologize. Like. And she says, I do. I’m sorry. I haven’t seen you in so long. And I’m sorry about the circumstances, about why I haven’t seen you. But of course we’re not. We don’t know all of those.

 

Alison Leiby: We don’t know those.  

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, but clearly they’re close. They were close. Or they. There’s an estrangement. We’re trying to figure it out. So she asked if she could stay the night, and he balks and she says, okay, boundaries. So he is the one setting up the boundaries, right? We see Alison. Sorry, Alison. We see James drinking again, heavily, staggering to bed without Nora. And, he hears Alison, his wife’s voice again, saying, where were you? Where were you? Where were you? And we also hear Davara telling us again the first night you hear him and we see flashes of his family in the car accident, and we see Alison, his wife, looking into the backseat. And there’s a constant motif of his son Henry, like hitting a quarter against his teeth, which would have been me. Would have made my parents go insane. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You can’t be doing that. But we kind of hear the clinking of the the quarter against his tooth sort of is like a motif in certain scenes. So again, just like literal, things that I appreciate them sort of weaving into, like these larger sound. You know, I appreciate the care. So, you know, James jerks awake at 3:03 a.m. to hear footsteps walking through his house, and I wrote it’s the [?]. He slams his bedroom door. As the footsteps get closer and closer and he grabs a bat. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he finally flings open the bedroom door. And of course, there’s no one there, but his front door is standing wide open. 

 

Alison Leiby: I don’t like it. 

 

Halle Kiefer: No. And so he goes in the morning, wakes up, he takes his medication. We see his wedding ring there again, and there’s a moment of like, oh, am I imagining this? Like, am I is this stress. What’s happening? We of course, see on the screen as he gets into his car is day breaks, day two. He’s listening to a radio report about the dead teenagers. He’s. You know, everyone in town is talking about it.

 

Alison Leiby: Obviously. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he drives into the big city, Saint Louis, where, the Pontifex Institute has a building, and it’s very Scientology. He walks in, there’s, like, a very robotic blond receptionist, who gives him a clipboard and she says, you know, we were established in 2013, but we can offer you is as old as time itself, James. Like, okay, great. I’ll go ahead and fill this out. Thank you. 

 

Alison Leiby: Cool. Thank you. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So he goes and sits down to take a personality assessment, which again, I’m again, I’m not saying it’s 1 to 1 Scientology, but when I think of like you go in to get assessed, it’s Scientology—

 

Alison Leiby: That’s a very Scientology thing.

 

Halle Kiefer: And so he has to answer yes or no to certain statements. I’m going to read some of them. Alison, you can you tell me yes or no? Okay. Yes or no? Life itself is a kind of disease. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. What.

 

Halle Kiefer: Okay, great. The brain can itch. Yes or no. 

 

Alison Leiby: I mean, maybe. Okay, that you have to pick one. Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Okay, great. Suicide is a form of thought control. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: The entire universe is in an erogenous zone? 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Well, I think it’s interesting because, like, this is not a sexy movie and no one has, like, it’s not like sex because it comes up a little bit, but it’s not—

 

Alison Leiby: Like a sexy movie. We’ve done some sexy movies. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Well that’s what I was thinking. I was like, oh, okay. Now, this is a cult that fucks. Something.

 

Alison Leiby: But it’s not. It’s like, that’s just a random. All right.

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And then an infection is a blessed event. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Alison, we turn the page we see even more. The scientific method is a tool of oppression. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And here’s what we get into. There’s actually a number of prompts that I think are just fully transphobic. Like one of them says, science says the genders are discrete. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, that feels transphobic. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then I went, menstruation is no basis on which to determine gender. And then finally I’m going to stop right here Pontifex Institute. A woman is just as likely to have a penis as a man. And I was like, well, apparently I’m on the other side of some of these things in the tulpa. I you’re telling me that you’re going to conjure an Empty Man from some sort of, like, other dimension of knowledge, and that guy is going to be transphobic when he gets here. Unacceptable. 

 

Alison Leiby: Seems unlikely. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Come on. Yeah. You’re beyond thought, beyond time, beyond the human body. And you’re going to be transphobic. 

 

Alison Leiby: Like, hung up on, like, a gender binary. 

 

Halle Kiefer: The next page, Alison. True or false? Rational thought is deadly. 

 

Alison Leiby: False. 

 

Halle Kiefer: An individual mind is a single cell in a large consciousness. 

 

Alison Leiby: False. 

 

Halle Kiefer: See, I think that’s not literally true. But it is figuratively true.

 

Alison Leiby:  Figuratively true, yes. But, like, literally—

 

Halle Kiefer: Well we are part of a collective exactly. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Everything is permissible. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: To give myself to something larger would be completely fulfilling. 

 

Alison Leiby: I’m not completely. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And finally, until a civilization has fallen, it has not yet served its purpose. 

 

Alison Leiby: I mean, this is a really wack way of looking at the world. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And it’s like, we’ll find out soon America.

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah we’re kind of headed there. Is this America? 

 

Halle Kiefer: And this is exactly I was it like being online? You know, as we all have to be. The fact that we have, things that I think are like sort of edge lord libertarian ideas and then just full on transphobia, what just puts me in the mind of, like, what’s interesting about this is, like, I do feel like there is some sense in like, the terror of this movie is the idea that we are going to go beyond, like, all boundaries go move beyond our sense of like what is real. And there is something where people think of that. I think of transgender people not as like a part of the simple natural variety as the animals we are as a species. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Like every fucking animal has on the God it has. And in me, like we are seeing ourselves rather than seeing ourselves, as like an insane project that we have to control. And again, you see how society is affected by this and all this everywhere. Like we have to be punished back into these roles. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And and like and so the scary thing is like, what if you thought too hard and reality didn’t, you know, reality came apart? It’s like grow up what are you 13, in your first philosophy class, like, what the fuck are you talking about? Like, anyways, grow up Empty Man. Any who, James goes up to the receptionist and says, what is this? And she says, the first step on his spiritual journey. And she says. He says no, no, not the not the, assessment. I get that part. I’m from San Francisco. I meant what’s this? And we see on the clipboard is the same image from Amanda’s room of the, seated man praying. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So he’s like, so what? He’s like, oh, honey, I’m from San Francisco. You don’t have to worry about that. I get this all mumbo jumbo. That makes sense to me. 

 

Alison Leiby: We’re good. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But. What is this? Yeah. What does the image mean? But she doesn’t have a chance to answer. The next seminar is about to begin, so James and a bunch of other people who are sort of, like, wandering off the street and we’re interested, they’re ushered into a lecture hall. And then surrounding the lecture hall are sort of like, what do you call them? They’re like little booths where you sit up like, box seats, there are box seats with actual cult members who are in the cult who are all wearing beige suits. They’re all, like, really done up and like, well-polished. And then like, the floor seats are from people who are just here to hear about what this is about, you know, and so we also see as we walk in and we and James does not clock it, that there’s a painting of the house in Bhutan where our original, original four characters were staying. And I guess if you’d seen it, it has no meaning to him. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But we are now meeting the founder of the Pontifex Institute, and that is, of course, the cult leader, Arthur Parsons. And he is giving his speech and again. Oh, he’s played by Stephen Root, who’s great—

 

Alison Leiby: Oh I love Stephen Root. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Right. He was just in Barry. I will always think of him as Milton from Office Space. 

 

Alison Leiby: Milton from Office Space. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And this just feel like we’re Milton could end up next leading a cult. And he tells them great news, everyone. 

 

[clip of Stephen Root]: There is nothing. You have lost more than that. There is no such thing as loss. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And there’s the thing I was like, I disagree with the, assessment, but I also disagree with this. Where it’s just sort of like. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: We we deny have the concept of right and wrong. There is no right and wrong. It’s like, yes, obviously. 

 

Alison Leiby: Sure. 

 

Halle Kiefer: We all agree that we shouldn’t go. Like there are certain boundaries. That’s one of them. There is our concept of right and wrong. But he says it all there is is the great binding nothingness of things. We were all one once we were all one. We will all be one again. And this message comes to you directly from The Empty Man. So of course James is like, oh, the Empty Man came up. All right. And he beckons, he says the Empty Man beckons you to discover the true face of the world, and all the newbies clap. And then the suited cult members clap and they, like, stomp their feet, up in the box seats. Afterwards, everyone gets to meet Arthur. Like, shake his hand if you want autographs again, like, L. Ron Hubbard I’m assuming. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

Halle Kiefer: And James approaches and says, so what is the Empty Man? And Arthur breaks down the cult’s philosophy to the best of his ability for this film. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So basically he says, in the same way that humans breathe air from the atmosphere and eat food from the biosphere, we also receive thoughts from the no sphere, which is what they call the sum of all collective thought. So the idea is like they think that if you focus and meditate, you will be able to access these thoughts that exist outside of you. But you could use and they could be really helpful to us. And he says, the Empty Man ritual is a meditative practice to allow you to sort of drop ideas from the no sphere. And he said, basically, the cult’s ultimate goal is to move to, to, erase the line between form and flesh. So they want to be able to manifest real things using thought. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And his example of this, which again, is like, we need to do a Pontypool, a really excellent movie if you’re listening to this. Because it’s also about like language and thought and sort of the breakdown of both. And so Arthur’s pitch, or way to describe this is like, you know, when you say your name enough times, it loses all meaning. That’s actually true of every thought. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So you can actually lose. Again, look at society. It’s like you can think anything. 

 

Alison Leiby: Sure. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then, you convince yourself it’s true. Alternatively, you can think something true and then you lose the truth of it. If you, you know, you could also lose that. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he quotes Nietzsche was saying, like when you stare into an abyss, it stares into you. And I wrote sounds like my Friday night’s. He says that people have said that so much. It sort of seems like a cliche, but let’s think about it. What is the abyss? What would be in the abyss that’s staring back at you that implies that both you and the abyss are capable of seeing and perceiving one another. So what if you were to, I don’t know, fucking get a crack and start talking to one another? What can the abyss tell us? And so he’s saying, you know, you repeat your name. Enough times it becomes gibberish. But the name itself hasn’t changed. So what is the right interpretation? The name or the gibberish? I was like, that’s terrifying. I don’t know exactly what we’re talking about, but I don’t like that at all.

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, I really don’t like it. But I also don’t get it. [laughs]

 

Halle Kiefer: And James, James instantly is like, okay, dude. Well, I’ll, thanks I guess. And Arthur says, thank you so much for coming back. I hope you stay longer next time. And James says, coming back. I’ve never been here before. And I was like, oh, sorry. I just must be something about you. You’re just, you know. So James goes over, they have like, a coffee and donuts situation. So he’s over there and he starts showing a photo— 

 

Alison Leiby: That’s a way to get me into a cult? 

 

Halle Kiefer: Oh, hell yeah. Absolutely. And the movie’s over. He just joins a cult. He’s showing like a photo of a man on his phone. He talks to this guy, this younger man, Garrett. Who was like, sorry, I don’t recognize her, but James is like, no, this all seems like exactly what I thought. She and her friends got sucked in. This is a fucking cult. She came here. And now she’s living here, or she’s part of this, and she’s run away from home, and now I’m going to find her, you know? So he sneaks upstairs. So he’s sneaking into the actual institute. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he finds a long hallway, sort of, like, almost like a hangar full of cots, like a dorm for the students. And in the dorm, a broadcasting voice that says nothing exists. Even if something exists, nothing could be known about it. 

 

Alison Leiby: That is so annoying. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Nothing can be known. Knowledge cannot be communicated to others. Even if it can be communicated, it cannot be understood. It’s like, okay, girl. And then we find a bunch of bald guys, praying, staring at the wall at a black poster on the wall, and they’re all whispering. So and here’s the thing I wrote. I’ve been enjoying all this, but we have about an hour left and I’m going to need to get—

 

Alison Leiby: To the Empty Man.

 

Halle Kiefer: Girl. Yes. And, I kept moving, but then I looked at time like, we I thought we were going. I thought we were wrapping up, you know what I mean? So, they’re staring at the black poster, and I think it’s like they’re focusing on the void to try to communicate with the void. They’re staring at the abyss, hoping that something will stare back and give them this. These thoughts or whose information they don’t have access to. Right. Worth a shot. Yeah. What else are you doing all the time. 

 

Alison Leiby: I guess. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So he slinks into the archive room and we see a like a file labeled Manifestation 14. And there’s all these files from the, cult, and he finds a room in the basement, looks like an AA meeting, and a bunch of people are sitting around in folding chairs in front of a, freestanding chalkboard, and they’re chanting from his thoughts come the dreams. From his dreams come the power. From the power comes the bridge. From the bridge comes the man. From the man comes his thoughts. Of course, James, as he’s walking down the cat walk immediately like kicks a can or something. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But then everyone, because he’s sort of in the shadow, they think it’s The Empty Man. So they’re like, oh. 

 

Alison Leiby: He’s here. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You’re with us. Tell us, Alison. Then there is a rattle and then there is a sound, and it implies that they are conjuring The Empty Man. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then they all lifted their empty bottles and blew, which I thought was a little cheesy, but you got it. You know, we. 

 

Alison Leiby: Motif. 

 

Halle Kiefer: That’s the ritual we’ve set up. Yeah. They blow the bottles. Suddenly all the lights turn on, exposing James to the catwalk. And two cult members said, sir, could you please come with us? And they haul him out like—

 

Alison Leiby: Is blowing the bottle suppose be, like, analogous to blowing the flute? Okay.

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes, I think so. I think there’s just, like, conjuring him like some, like a almost like, incantation. 

 

Alison Leiby: Sure. 

 

Halle Kiefer: That we’re setting up. Yeah. I’m not sure. Exactly. Sure. Why blowing versus, like, saying single a limerick, I don’t know, but. So they throw him in the alley and he sees Garrett, the young man that he showed the Amanda’s photo to who’s out there smoking, and he’s like, oh yeah, you’ll never get any with anywhere with them like that. They’re far out, you know. And he gives James a cigarette. They smoke out in the rain and he’s like, look, I did see that girl. I saw Amanda, she was here. But they sent her down state to the Pontifex camp where they send you to get pre PR. Pre release.

 

Alison Leiby: It’s like the scientology semester at sea thing.

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah what is that called? Yes. Unfortunately. Exactly. And you see, like. Well, it’s the first threshold for achieving singularity. And so James was like, oh, God damn it, she’s at some sort of cult camp. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh. 

 

Halle Kiefer: He says, I could tell you where it’s at, though. It’s off route 32. It’s in the Mark Twain National Forest near the Merrimac’s Bridge. And James drives down there and finds a camp elsewhere. Of course, it appears abandoned. He doesn’t see anyone, and he ends up kind of sneaking into the office buildings. They’re all, like, discrete, individual cabins. And one of them is the records room. So he gets in there, he finds Amanda’s file, he finds all the other teens files Alison, he finds a file. It’s bright red compared to the rest of the other manila folders with his name on it. And when he opens it, it’s empty inside. Almost like, I don’t know. I’m going to put it out here. Some kind of Empty Man of some sort. 

 

Alison Leiby: Not great. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he looks at it. He goes, yeah, okay. Which I didn’t think this, this actor had a lot of funny asides, like as, in, like the, like the person who is like a real person. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: He did a lot of moments of, like, what are we talking about? And this is James Badge Dale, who’s from. Let’s see he’s in The Grey, 13 hours. 24, The Departed. A lot of stuff. And he’s great in this movie, he’s, you know, our grizzled ex-cop who’s trying to get to the bottom of things. But is there a bottom to the to the abyss? We’ll find out. He goes into another cabin, and they’re all filthy and covered in cobwebs, like no one’s been there in forever. He finds an old, charred teddy bear on the ground. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, that’s never chilling. 

 

Halle Kiefer: He also finds a VHS tape called manifestation 13 the pops into the TV. And we see six young men chanting. And we realize this is the incident in the Missouri woods. We’re watching video. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Of the guys who all murdered each other, right? And they’re chanting, much like we heard in the Institute, they’re chanting one another, and then they hear a sound. They all stop, and the cuts the static. When it cuts back, it’s chaos. We see naked legs, broken glass on the ground, and a shirtless man sort of like seizing and spouting gibberish. And they try to put, like, something on his head. And then we see him frantically getting up, and he’s got his hand in what I assume is somebody else’s, bodily organs. He’s like, sticking his hand because I was like, is that his did he pull out his own stomach? But I think it’s somebody else’s. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he’s taking someone else’s blood. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And he’s frantically painting the seated man on the wall. And in this one, it’s a seated man, outline in blood. And then there’s sort of like a T shaped figure over it. It’s not a cross or anything, but it’s sort of like a little crown or something over the seated figure. Night has fallen, Alison. And as James leaves the cabin, he hears chanting in the distance. And unlike you and me, he goes towards it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, it couldn’t be me.

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I would be dead sprinting back to the road. He finds a light in the trees. He follows it, and he sees dozens of cult members, all dressed in black, dancing around a gigantic fire. And they stop and they all sort of stand swaying as James approaches, and then they start going counterclockwise and he’s hiding, like basically in a marsh, like he’s like among the reeds. And as they run counterclockwise, the fire seems to stretch up to the sky. And above Jim, we see the stars sort of blur, and then he blinks, disoriented, and he turns to leave when the chanting stops entirely. And when he turns back, the fire is out and all the cult members are staring at him. 

 

Alison Leiby: No, that’s not good. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then the stars go out and the sounds of nature cuts out, so it’s totally dark and dead silent. And when the sound and light comes back on. The cult has started slowly walking towards him and. And we see him take a step back. And then collectively, the cult takes one step forward. He takes another step back. They step forward. He says, yeah, no. And then he books it. And he’s running as these cult members start running after him, dead, sprinting, screaming, hooting, hollering like animalistic, chasing him down. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: He gets to his car. Fortunately, it gets inside. Of course it will not start right away. The cult smashes his windshield, they’re tearing the car apart, and he’s about to drive away. We see a cult member, like, stumbling off the roof. People are flying out, and finally he’s able to turn the car around, get out to the street. He’s screaming, what the fuck was that? And he peels, you know, his way back up to Saint Louis. As a storm rolls in. He goes to the detective and says, here’s everything that happened. And they’re just like, okay, so let me get this straight. You think this vulnerable teenage girl is with the cult? So you went there alone. Someone who is not a cop. You took files, you broke into cabins. Do please do not fuck up this investigation for me. You could have just said you thought she was down there. We could go look. And so he’s, like, yelling at James. And James is like, you don’t understand. It’s not like something is going on. Like it’s not a normal crime. It’s not what you think? Exactly. But he said, okay. He gives James a notepad to write down his entire statement. And, we see James head over to the security store to stock up. So we see him get like, bolt cutters, pocket knives, like he’s got everything. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You know, he’s situated. And he goes over to Nora’s house to warn her about what he saw. So he’s like, I don’t know exactly what’s happening, but if Amana is involved with these people, you’re in danger. And I think you should get out of here. And he closes all of her curtains, and we see sort of a white van parked on the street. And Nora says, do you think that you’re telling me Amanda is in that cult, he’s like, yes, I’m so sorry. I actually think the cult killed her friends. And they also, I think, know where you live because he found the files. So it’s like, I think they have her address. I think we should get out of here. Of course. The phone rings and she picks it up, and then he answers, in the hands of the James, it’s just whispering and clicking like the whispering we’ve heard people whisper in each other’s ears. And James, to his credit, says, let’s get out of here right now. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. Thank you. Good.

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So they each take their cars to a hotel. And he’s basically checking Nora into a hotel, and then he’s going to go home. And Nora’s outside like outside lobby. She starts crying like she’s dead, isn’t she? And James says, I really don’t think so. I don’t think I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t think she’s dead because she would have been dead with her friends. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And. And James asks her, did Amanda ever know about us? Did you ever tell her? And Nora’s like, oh, did I tell her that thing that we don’t even talk about? No, I don’t think she knew. And she says to James, don’t you think we’ve punished ourselves long enough? Of course, Nora and James were lovers. And we cut back to that night. We see Alison driving Henry in the car, and we realize we hear Alison asking, where were you? Well, that night, James was with Nora the night of the crash. That’s why he wasn’t in the car. And I think to her point was like, we fucked up. But both of us have been punished horribly by that. By the cosmos. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right? Can’t we at least we’re just like, yeah, be normal. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Which also is funny because, like, I, again as someone who has like very different opinion of feelings about monogamy, where I was like, I mean, yeah, you shouldn’t have done that. But like, I don’t think you have to, like, ruin your own life for—

 

Alison Leiby: The rest of your entire life because of this one thing. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes. And believe me, I’m Catholic. I understand the thinking of my family died because I had sex with somebody outside of marriage. I get it believe me. But that isn’t what happened. It’s not even what happened in this movie. That, implies a supernatural exists, so, you know. But, you know, obviously he still torn up about it, and he goes home, he goes to sleep, he wakes up. Of course, 3:03 again on the dot. He lights a cigarette and he looks down the he left the bedroom door open and he sees a figure sit up from the ground in the hallway and stand up. It’s, of course, a shrouded figure. 

 

Alison Leiby: Of course. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Since it’s the second day he is seeing, he’s now seeing the Empty Man. He shuts the door, he screams and he hears the doorbell rang. And he goes to the door again. Could not be me.

 

Alison Leiby: Nope. 

 

Halle Kiefer: He answers the door. And in the rain is the old charred teddy bear from the camp. Which I took to mean we know—

 

Alison Leiby: We know where, you are. We know where you are, and we know that you’ve seen us. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Exactly. But I think we’re to think through that conversation with Nora. He maybe and this is other thing too of like what we then see him do which is in the morning wakes up. He’s about to take his pill. He doesn’t take it. He puts it back in the bottle and he puts on his wedding ring. So I was like, is he rejecting pharmaceuticals? Which is a very Scientology. 

 

Alison Leiby: Very Scientology. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And putting on his wedding ring, like, oh, I can finally let my like to me, the wedding ring thing makes sense? Like, okay, finally I can move past it and really grieve because I’m not being myself. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Putting the pill back, I’m like, honey, the pill is not the issue.

 

Alison Leiby: The pill is not the problem. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And on the screen it reads day three. And now I have to ask you, Alison, who will survive this film? 

 

[voice over]: Who will survive? 

 

Halle Kiefer: We got James and Nora, who are really the only ones I care about. 

 

Alison Leiby: And then we got. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I think they’ll both survive. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Okay, great. And what do you think will happen? Like, what do you think will happen with the Empty Man? 

 

Alison Leiby: I think that he’ll, like, confront The Empty Man. And like be able to maybe break. The the hold over people that he has okay. Or at least like for himself. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Okay. Fabulous. I like it. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Halle Kiefer: All right, so we see James park across the street from the Pontifex Institute and wait and watch to see Garrett come out. And he trails them and he follows them to a hospital. He walks in the hospital and he’s sort of spying on them. And they go into a room and they try to shut the curtain, but he could sort of see what’s going on. And as he watches, at least 6 to 8 cult members are forming a semicircle around a man in a hospital bed. He’s unconscious. He has a respirator. And as he’s watching, these cult members fall to their knees simultaneously and start praying to this guy in the hospital bed. James sort of hides himself and then follows Garrett back, and when Garrett’s friend drops him off. James grabs Garrett. Pepper sprays him and throws him in the back of his car in broad daylight. And I think there is a funny moment where everyone’s on their phone, so they don’t see this happening. Like we see everyone else in the street is like looking down. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. That’s fun. 

 

Halle Kiefer: However. So he throws Garrett in there and he drives him to an abandoned, like a warehouse. Like behind a warehouse. Right. And he’s like, I’m sorry. I didn’t know they were going to ambush you at the camp. I really thought she was there. I didn’t know that was all happening. They don’t tell me anything. And James says I don’t care about that. Who the fuck is that guy in the hospital? And Garrett says, I don’t know his name, but he’s like an antenna. He transmits thoughts that we can’t get anywhere else, so everyone sort of like, goes to him and spends a lot of time with them because he can get us stuff from the no sphere. And, you know, unfortunately, that also means that he is in a unconscious state. Like he’s just sort of like he’s a receiver. He’s just receiving and playing these messages. And, James takes out a gun and he puts it to Garrett’s head and makes him kneel down. Says, you’re going to say something that makes sense, or so help me God, I’m going to kill you. I was like, thank you. 

 

Alison Leiby: Thank you. Thank you. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So Garrett Garrett says a lot I don’t know if much makes sense. But we’ll say. Garrett says look, they say that thoughts are transmissible, right? That their idea of a no sphere is all consciousness. But it’s not just human consciousness. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And that’s what they found out, is there are other minds out there, other thoughts, minds that are ancient and angry. And James says, you’re all are fucking morons. What are you talking about? 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. This would be my reaction.

 

Halle Kiefer: 100%. And Garrett tells him you’ve experienced it too, dreams, fevers, Deja vu. Like you get these flashes from somewhere else and it kind of can only get you when you’re, like, vulnerable or sick or guilty, like you get. And obviously, we’ve seen his dreams. Like he’s revisiting his his family’s death over and over again. It’s like it can reach you, but we’re trying to cultivate a relationship with them. And then once in a million years, there is the other and they’re like, what is that? It’s like it basically they do like, well, they don’t say the word God. But I took it as like, occasionally you communicate with a God.

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You know, and so in order to do that, he needs an Empty Man, in this case, the guy in the hospital bed to be the bridge. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So they need a human body for this ancient, incredible intelligence to communicate with human beings. And the point of this, at least according to the cult, it’s like he comes to release all boundaries, like he’s going to give us his God like knowledge so that there will be we will we will essentially be like him, you know, and that’s what I’m saying like there’s no reality except for him, which is how people talk about God, I think. So that’s. 

 

Alison Leiby: Like that. That’s like not so far off from some. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. But he describes he’s like, there’s no reality except for him, his endless black chaos. And I’m like, I don’t want just endless chaos. Like can we just have like a nice time? Can we like, sit in the woods? 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then I wrote, okay, we need to wrap this up. 

 

Alison Leiby: Up. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Like it is. We’re half an hour until the end and I’m like, we have got bee bee boop boop. We got to-do this. And but because Garrett tells him like, man when he when we finally get this set up, things are going to slide man. It’s going to be a bloodbath. And then I’m like, wait, so why would they want that to happen? Like I understand me. Like I want God like knowledge. Okay. That make sense. 

 

Alison Leiby: Sure. But why would you like, like hope for and plan for. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Right. 

 

Alison Leiby: Mass death. Like what? I don’t know what that accomplishes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Maybe it’s like the l I don’t know. I mean, you see these like evangelicals where it’s like. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: They want the end of the world. So I’m like, oh, is it like the end of the world? Is it? No, it. You think it’s good. So like, oh, I, we need to bring about this cataclysmic end. But so that part I was kind of rocky on. But then we look at Garrett and Garrett is like it looks like he’s having an allergic reaction. Like it’s all red around his eyes. And he sees James nose has started bleeding again, which we saw earlier. He says, see, you’re coming down with him already. You got the your brain is itching, isn’t it? And James is like, you’re full of shit again. I grew up in San Francisco. I’ve heard every woowoo horseshit thing. That doesn’t mean it’s real. Tell me where fucking Amanda is. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And Garrett says she’s on the bridge and he’s like, what bridge? We live in Saint Louis. And then Garrett starts laughing and says, don’t you get it? There is no bridge. And then. James rightfully kicks the shit out of him. 

 

Alison Leiby: Thank you. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And just fucking punches in the face. We’re all at I’ll be honest. It’s like no bam. And as he’s beating Garrett up, Garrett is laughing and laughing and he leaves them there. He drives back to the Pontifex Institute. So now it’s like nightfall. There’s a rainstorm coming in, and he finds he goes to the file room and he finds the file of the guy in the hospital. Alison, do you know at this point who the guy in the hospital is? 

 

Alison Leiby: No. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Think, to the beginning of the movie. 

 

Alison Leiby: The first guy who fell in. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yes. Well, he it’s the one who survived. The guy who. Yeah. The guy who fell in. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So it’s Paul. 

 

Alison Leiby: Paul. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So they actually don’t know his name? We know his name is Paul. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So he finds his file and, you know, again, like everyone, everyone there, he’s like a John Doe because, like, the implication is like, the cult leader found this guy or like, communicated with this guy after this happened and then realized what he was. But we don’t really get a backstory. That’s just kind of what I. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Assume is happening. And then James finds his actual file, which has all the information about him. It literally there’s a article like about him as like a kid who just has growing up in San Francisco, which is so funny because he kept saying that. And, his prescription for his medication, his family’s death, like in the newspaper, the coupon he used in the Mexican restaurant two days earlier, and photos of his wife and child when they were alive. And she’s like, he’s like, how would you have this? He also finds a photo of him sitting naked in a chair. A photo he clearly does not remember taking. And he hears Alison’s whispering, where were you? Where were you? And then he hears his son’s voice say, on the first night he finds you. On the second night, you see him sort of in the incantation, and James drives to the hospital. 

 

Alison Leiby: And we’re on day three? 

 

Halle Kiefer: Day three. So we are, we are. We’re headed towards the end here. So James tries the hospital and he tries to pump the nurse at the nurses station for information, because it’s night and she’s the only one there, and she’s like, look, I can’t tell you any information, but he was admitted to Bellevue 23 years ago. He’s stable. He’s not on life support, but he’s unresponsive five years. You know, he was sent to Bellevue and then five years later was transferred to Stockholm health. And that he was sent to a private clinic clinic in Cedar Rapids until two years ago. And he was brought here. So like, well, that’s quite a bit for someone who can’t tell you much, at the hospital. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But she says he’s a John Doe. I don’t know his name as far as I know. Clearly. But clearly he’s like an important person. He has money in his family or something because he gets a lot of visitors and the bills are always paid. Right. So the implication is like the cult is sort of using him. 

 

Alison Leiby: As a vessel. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. To get this information. And she, she says, actually, there’s a, there’s, a visitor in there with him now. James looks in the room and we see Amanda sitting on the bed. So Amanda is alive and she’s visiting this man. And the nurse turns to James and says, and the nurse? Kind of like, it’s like a little like she’s like, seductive. And maybe that’s not exactly. I’m like, maybe I was reading it that way. 

 

Alison Leiby: Sure. 

 

But she sort of turns to him and says, like, so is he the man you’ve been looking for? So we sort of understand the nurse also is in on it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Like she has like a—

 

Alison Leiby: She says that to James.

 

Halle Kiefer: To James. He goes in and he sees that it is Amanda and he asks her, well who is this? What is his name? And she says, I don’t know either. He transmits and we receive. Meanwhile, James steps out to call Nora to be like, I found her. I can let you know, you know, like, don’t freak out. And Amanda’s trimming and shaving the man’s beard. Like, taking care of him like you would of someone who is unconscious, you know, but just tending to him. Alison, when Nora picks up the call and James says, I found Amanda. Nora says, who is this? Also, Nora has no idea who James is. 

 

Alison Leiby: What? 

 

Halle Kiefer: He hangs up and Amanda has to do this. Actors to ask to do a lot of heavy lifting here at the end. And I really like she she has to lay it all out for us. And I really appreciate everything. 

 

Alison Leiby: Somebody yeah somebody has to shoulder this burden and. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Sasha Frolova shout out to her. She, she here we go. Because she’s going to try to lay out this play bitch. Okay? And so he he’s obviously distraught and she tells him, basically, we need a new transmitter. A body can only handle this so much power. For so long, he’s been. You know, we know that he’s been like this since 1995. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Clearly, the cult’s been drawing for him. Then we finally flash back to our boy Paul in the cave, in case we didn’t pick it up. But we get it right. And she says there’s actually a 500 year gap between this transmitter and the last one. So presumably the last person who was in that cave. Right.

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: It’s like we don’t want to risk going without a transmitter. So we did something risky. We made one. James is freaking out. He’s like, you’re fucking crazy. This is insane. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But then he also starts to grab his head and he’s screaming and he falls to the ground and she’s like, you know, I thought you thought I didn’t know about you and my mother. But I knew because I wrote it. James. I wrote it into the script when we created you. And she says, when was your birthday? 

 

Alison Leiby: He said, It’s November 3rd. 

 

Halle Kiefer: She’s like, no, no, your birthday, your actual birthday was three days ago when we conjured you into being. 

 

Alison Leiby: Huh? 

 

Halle Kiefer: You are all you are our tulpa. You are our Empty Man. And she said to him, what’s the worst thing that ever happened to you? You could say it. And it’s obviously the death of his wife and son, and he’s like, we could only create you through grief, sorrow or guilt. But then I was also like, what you have isn’t real grief—

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: I was like connected to reality. But I guess maybe it doesn’t matter. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: She tells James, wouldn’t it just be easier to let go, because if you allow yourself to be emptied out, then you don’t worry about any of this. Like it’s all gone and you just become a vessel for this entity that we’re communicating. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: With beyond space and time. And we see sort of this flash of James when he was standing on the catwalk, on the Institute, we see him look up and he realizes that he was the Empty Manan coming into the room, like he is both seeing himself on the catwalk, and that he himself is emerging as the Empty Man. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And everyone blows their bottles, and James drops his red file, and he turns and he runs down a hallway, and he sees the chair where obviously he was, taking photos of him nude. And beyond it we see the giant shrouded figure, obviously the skeleton from the cave, in Bhutan, it emerges from the wall as if it’s the skeleton emerging from the wall, cloaked in a shroud, and chases James through the basement of the Institute. And as he turns, the lights, click off after him one by one, until the figure lunges out of the darkness. And in this we. I think they did a great job. I’m not showing you too much because when the finger figure lunges out, it now has flesh. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But you don’t see it directly. But what you do see, it has tentacles and sort of like a lamprey eel mouth. And that’s why I was like, oh, it’s H.P. Lovecraft. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: It’s an elder God. It’s something from beyond time made manifest. We just saw its skeleton. It is like this is a monstrous, godlike creature, and it holds James’s mouth open, and unfortunately, it starts pumping black goo from inside its like head cavity into his mouth. 

 

Alison Leiby: I don’t love the goo. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And I guess it’s like that’s him clearing him out. Sort of a black goo enema. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh sure. 

 

Halle Kiefer: From beyond space and time, you know, James awakens in the basement of the Institute and runs down the alleyway, still somehow convinced he’ll escape. And we see finally the full story of, like, the night of his family’s death. We see him at the funeral. So it’s the night of the funeral of Nora’s husband’s funeral. So the implication to me is that these two families were friends. Nora’s husband dies. She and, James were already having an affair. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay.

 

Halle Kiefer: We see. We also like cut to the grieving families. Of all the kids who died. The high school, the grieving family, of all the kids, of the people who died in Bhutan, with Paul. And he we see James run to his home and he smashes open the door. But of course, when he opens it, there’s nobody living there. He doesn’t actually live there. It’s just a house they put in his mind. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then we see at the end of the hallway there’s light coming from underneath his bedroom door. And in his flashback, we see James stay with Nora at the house and send Alison and Henry home, you know, ahead of him in the snow. And as they’re driving, a deer darts out in front of him and Alison swerves, sending the car off a bridge, flying to their death. And you do see Nora and James fucking for a second. And I thought it was funny because she’s wearing, like, the sexiest, like, like, thigh high black silk stockings. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Like matching nightie and bra. It’s like I maybe somebody is wearing that to their husbands funeral. I think you’re barely getting out the fucking door. 

 

Alison Leiby: No. I don’t think so.

 

Halle Kiefer: You should be wearing the most comfortable underwear possible [both speaking] so you can get to the fucking day. The idea of like, ooh, I’m gonna wear heels. It’s like that is. 

 

Alison Leiby: Putting on thigh-highs. To grieve.

 

Halle Kiefer: Oh honey that is, that’s a that’s a third date. And that’s if you’re lucky. This is the idea that like she is mourning her husband who died. Yeah. And this is what she’s wearing, I thought was very funny and also like how Catholic to be or like how like Christian to be like the greatest sin. You had sex with this lady, you know. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: It’s like there’s a God who’s vomiting black, goo—

 

Alison Leiby: Making people talk about it like it’s. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Also none of this actually happened. That was like probably end of like, okay, but like, why did you make him go through this? But so finally he, James goes to the hospital and he lifts his gun and he shoots the man in the hospital bed. He empties the clip in his head like fucking blows his brain. 

 

Alison Leiby: Okay.

 

Halle Kiefer: Sprayed everywhere. And the blood sort of forms a shape of the seated man and sort of like the little T on top of his head is just part of the structure of the hospital bed. So I’m like, okay, I guess we were leading up to this like he was seeing it, and. 

 

Alison Leiby: Sure. 

 

Halle Kiefer: It was then he made it manifest, I suppose, like the idea was put in his head. Anyways, he kills this guy and, he steps out of, the hospital room and it turns out everybody works there, turns it, looks to him. They’re also in on it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Of course. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And we hear a, lo, who, of course, across the bottle as everyone who is still there drops their knees to pray to him, and we end with a whisper. You transmit, we receive. The Empty Man, Alison. 

 

Alison Leiby: Woah.

 

Halle Kiefer: I did want to talk about some questions I had. 

 

Alison Leiby: I have some as well. 

 

Halle Kiefer: First of all. So does that mean he’s now in a coma like he’s. Is he going to be in a hospital bed? 

 

Alison Leiby: I would assume. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But also, he’s not real. So like the other guy, Paul, I guess. 

 

Alison Leiby: Was real. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Had to be hollowed. He was real. So he had some the inside, but it is like. So you had to create a tulpa and you had to get that tulpa grief and pain or whatever, just to give you the ability to create him. But, but, that’s just mean. I don’t think you should. If you create tulpa, don’t give him a sad backstory with his wife and kids. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. Why does he have to have, like, a lot of guilt and shame associated with the a terrible event, like, I don’t know, I don’t—

 

Halle Kiefer: Especially sexual shame. I was like, this is very. Yeah. This is very it’s funny. I did really enjoy it in the end. But there definitely things at the end of like all right. I’ll allow it. Okay. 

 

Alison Leiby: So he was never real. 

 

Halle Kiefer: He was never real. 

 

Alison Leiby: But like, was his family real?

 

Halle Kiefer: That’s why I think I was like is Amanda real? [both speaking] His family wasn’t real. His family wasn’t real. The family was not real, but Nora was real because he called Nora. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So, Amanda, maybe Amanda was real and Nora was real, but he was a tulpa. 

 

Alison Leiby: But, like, yeah, I guess, like, who’s real is like, a lingering question that I’ll have for this film. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Right? And then it’s like, and I think this is the same thing. Like, I, a question I have about hereditary, where we get to the end. If you haven’t seen hereditary, oh, go watch it or don’t listen to our episode. It’s like, so what’s the game plan here? Right? It’s like, okay, so the cult wins in this case, like the cult way. So we—

 

Alison Leiby: So they’ve got him for a couple hundred years to. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Right. 

 

Alison Leiby: Or or 20 I it’s like a little unclear. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Which again like does a Tulpa have like until 80 year like like a. 

 

Alison Leiby: Normal life span for a human. And it’s like you just get what you get out of him. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then also it’s like, did the cult members. 

 

Alison Leiby: Make another one? 

 

Halle Kiefer: I think it’s like the cult member because Garrett said, it’s gonna be a bloodbath. So I’m like, okay, so I guess the cool members are just fine with that. But also you’re still they’re human, so they could be killed or I don’t know, again, I don’t need to know all the answers. But the idea was like, huh, okay. All right. 

 

Alison Leiby: Certainly something. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. What are some fatal mistakes you think were made in the movie The Empty Man? Alison. 

 

[voice over]: Fatal mistakes. 

 

Alison Leiby: I mean, in general summoning. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: Like when you fell down that crevasse. Like, don’t touch anything. Don’t blow on anything. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Don’t. And also if you’re Greg, tell the your your other two right away.  

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You don’t see him say anything. And I would be like hey. Paul aside, I saw a gigantic, weird skeleton down there. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. It’s like, even if it’s not something you guys are going to sort through, like maybe someone else should know about it. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Right? Yeah. Just send someone down there just to make sure I get to some sort of elder God that got stuck down there, but still exists in the new sphere. And, you know, it’s not for us to figure out, obviously, but I guess they could have told someone, but of course they didn’t make it off the mountain. But also then it’s like, well, so who found Paul? Because Paul, I guess maybe Paul just walked down the mountain. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah, right. I guess he got himself back to somewhere that then they were like. But like, when did he go like—

 

Halle Kiefer: Comatose?

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Like yeah. 

 

Alison Leiby: When was that? 

 

Halle Kiefer: And then like, you see like on the Wikipedia, you see that Arthur Parsons basically there’s the implication is like he was in a cave in Jordan, you know, like that was part of it, but it’s like, did he talk to The Empty Man? Or was this like. 

 

Alison Leiby: Right. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Was Paul lucid for a while? And he met Paul while Paul was still, like, alive and talking. 

 

Alison Leiby: And then, like, turned him into The Empty Man. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But like—

 

Alison Leiby: I don’t know. 

 

Halle Kiefer: But it does make you want to read the comic books. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Because as, you know, as we said, like, because they do talk about it like, oh, it’s communicable, but it’s to me it was much more of like a cult, like a religious like, oh, religious ideas are the things that are issue. And they, we spread and like if you believe in it versus they talk about it more like it’s an actual disease or conceptualizing a disease, which I almost think is a very interesting way to think of it. And, and maybe it’s both, maybe it’s just sort of like a way to depict that, that on screen. And I thought it was good again, too long, but I did enjoy it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. If you do read the book, the comic book, I think, we should do like an update. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. 

 

Alison Leiby: So. If you end up doing that, because I would be interested to know, like what? What clarity we could find from, you know, another medium for the story because it is interesting, but I’m still confused. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Also, I wanted to shout out because a couple of people sent us information about, the shadow puppets. 

 

Alison Leiby: Oh, yes. 

 

Halle Kiefer: From. Oh, dang it. The shadow puppets from. 

 

Alison Leiby: Candyman. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Candyman. Boop boop let me try to find it. Here we go. Yeah. A couple people. Serena on Twitter. Thank you for sending it. And to everyone who sent it. I always want to shout them out. It’s. Thank you. It’s a collaboration with Manual Cinema, a Chicago based design company who focus on integrating practical theater elements into the silver screen. And they’re the ones who worked on the shadow puppetry, which I thought was beautiful. And I think, you know, in New York or, sorry, in L.A., they have the Bob Barker Marionette Theater, which I’ve never been to, but I really have a healthy respect for puppetry and other kinds of arts that I don’t know how to do it I don’t know much about. So I think it’s a good example of like, why I didn’t know a damn thing about it, but I’m really glad that this exists. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: And I appreciate everyone sending it to us. And if you have any interest in this kind of art form, please look it up. We were just really appreciate that was very nice that you sent it to us that, you know, we’re, you know, we’re dumb as hell. So we appreciate it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. Any help we could get. We absolutely need. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. So, yeah. What would you put this movie on the spooky scale, Alison?

 

[voice over]: A spooky scale. 

 

Alison Leiby: This feels like a six for me. I feel like a six. Feels like a lot of scary stuff, a lot of eeriness. You know, cult stuff is always scary because you’re learning rules to something. But I think the confusing elements kind of take away a little bit from the scariness. 

 

Halle Kiefer: You know, I’m going to go six as well.

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah it feels like a real six. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I really spookiness all the elements I do. For me, of the two long monologues about the cult, I get it. I get where we had to do it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah yeah yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: It is a it is a comic book. Like it is, you know, it is an adaptation. How do you adapt? The this whole world view? I’m very empathetic to that. But, yeah, I the beginning fucking dynamite when they’re on the mountain. Loved it. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yeah. 

 

Halle Kiefer: Everyone in it is phenomenal. I thought was beautifully directed and I loved a lot of, like, very compelling uses of sound, like repetition of sound and, you know, hey, look, I, I, I don’t need everything to make total sense. You know what I mean? And by the end of it, I thought, I’m glad I saw this. So.

 

Alison Leiby: Great. 

 

Halle Kiefer: So that was it. Well, and, thank you for joining us, you guys. 

 

Alison Leiby: Yes. And. 

 

Halle Kiefer: As always, please. 

 

Alison Leiby: Keep it spooky. Don’t forget to follow us at Ruined podcasts and Crooked Media on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok for show updates. And if you’re just as opinionated as we are, consider dropping us a review. Ruined is a Radio Point and Crooked Media production, we’re your writers and hosts Halle Kiefer and Alison Leiby. This show is executive produced by Alex Bach, Sabrina Fonfeder and Houston Snyder, and recorded and edited by Kat Iossa. From Crooked Media our executive producer is Kendra James with production and promotional support from Ari Schwartz, Kyle Seglin, Julia Beach, Caroline Dunphy, and Ewa Okulate.

 

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