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Don’t let the microbudget deter you; “The Empty Space” is a weighty and deeply investing indie horror film well worth your time.

Empty Space

Andrew Jara’s latest film, The Empty Space, tackles difficult topics, including grief, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, while exploring the cosmic meld between horror and science fiction.

The story follows Aimee (Valerie Alene), a young woman who is left reeling in the wake of her boyfriend Noah’s (Joe Sinclitico) death. Aimee’s life has been reduced to a series of panic attacks and hopelessness. She eventually makes strides to better herself, making friends with Mel (Rachel Olsen) and attending a support group for those with trauma run by Father Brian (Austin Savage).

However, Aimee’s vast grief conjures a nightmarish version of Noah, a being that has infinite power and the ability to erase people. In turn, Aimee must face her own grief to create a better life for herself and protect those around her.

Due to the film’s micro-budget, Jara finds himself wearing many proverbial hats on the set. He is a writer, director, producer, director of photography, and editor.

You can tell Jara put himself into this story and that he believes in it as well.

That level of dedication, paired with the kind understanding of Aimee’s plight, is one of the film’s most admirable strengths and pulls the viewer in.

This project is backed with love, care, and respect, which makes it a great representation of the idiosyncratic nature of grief and the all-around struggle to cope with the mental repercussions of trauma.

Aimee’s PTSD isn’t glamorized, but it is not portrayed as a weakness either. It strikes a delicate balance that some mainstream horror fare isn’t able to when it comes to exploring PTSD in full. Jara’s here to scare you, but he’s also here to make those similar to Aimee herself feel seen and understood.

Actress Valerie Alene goes all in on Aimee’s characterization, allowing her the space to be both messy and witty.

She’s unafraid of the weight of the material, and that allows her to dig in. She has a great rapport with the other actors on screen, but some of my favorite moments are between Aimee and Mel. Rachel Olsen is an easy standout, creating a distinct character and giving some great work with microexpressions, especially in the scene where Mel tells Aimee about her own trauma. Olsen gives Mel shades of broody hopefulness paired with dry humor.

Meanwhile, Joe Sinclitico has the challenge of playing Noah, both the man himself and the version that is conjured via Aimee’s despair. There are moments when Sinclitico is deeply unnerving, embodying a sort of unnerving otherworldly possessive cruelty.

The supporting cast bolsters these three performances, creating a rounded-out and interesting dynamic all around.

Jara and co show that smaller budgets and indie films can be just as cerebral and impactful as mainstream studio-backed fare.

There are budgetary constraints, but Jara doesn’t let that stop him from telling an authentic tale, and that is admirable.

It’s the sort of film that makes viewers excited to see what Jara will do when he has a larger budget (which is something that I assume will happen in the future). However, the brisk runtime left me wanting a little more, especially in regard to Mel’s own healing journey. But again, that’s not so much a downside as it is a sign of investment.

If you’re a fan of microbudget and indie horror, you should definitely give THE EMPTY SPACE a go!

The independent scene remains one of my favorite sectors of horror because of its level of lovingly crafted storytelling.

The Empty Space can be rented here and is available for purchase on Blu-ray here or here.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 3

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