The Invisible Man
After staging his own suicide, a crazed scientist uses his power to become invisible to stalk and terrorize his ex-girlfriend. When the police refuse to believe her story, she decides to take matters into her own hands and fight back.
After the rather bleak reception of the rushed Dark Universe from Universal Pictures, the plans for a vast interconnected monster universe have been scrapped, replaced with a new creator-driven approach focusing on lower budget films with powerful stories. The first entry in this new and exciting phase for the classic Universal monsters?
The Invisible Man.
Smart, socially relevant and most of all, truly frightening, The Invisible Man captures the terrors of what made this character a horror icon while putting a fresh spin on the material to tell a story that is simply captivating. The film starts out with the intensity already turned all the way up as we see Moss’s character Cecilia trying to escape the clutches of her abusive partner Adrian played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen. In these first few moments, it’s easy to see that the film is setting up tension and terror when confronting this new vision of what a monster really is remarkably well.
What follows is a heart-wrenching thrill ride that I honestly didn’t see coming from the material given in the previews. Cecilia is coping with overwhelming PTSD from suffering abuse that included Adrian controlling everything she wore, ate, spoke and eventually even thought as well as instances of psychical violence. The constant gaslighting and dangerous behaviors become intertwined with the reveal of the ominous Invisible Man himself as we spiral into a chaotic whirlwind packed with misogynist-fueled disbelief, questions of sanity and bloody violence that will have you on edge throughout the entire film. But it doesn’t simply rely on abuse of women for its scares and shocks, it takes these themes into surprising and newfound territory with an unyielding sense of empowerment when faced with such despair.
The brilliance of The Invisible Man is the revitalization of the monster-flick through grounded and timely topics that scare modern audiences. Adrian is a great representation of what a monster looks like in 2020. Not hidden in bandages with large glasses and consumed by an unmistakable crazy fervor, but instead standing right in front of you, hiding in plain sight (pun fully intended). This is the monster that audiences of today can relate to and that gives the film a sense of realness that helps everything else to succeed with unsettling ease, from the technological angle with invisibility to the underlying revenge themes.
This is a double-edged sword, though. The Invisible Man is a classic Universal monster right alongside Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman and more. But this film loses that perspective of the monster as it seeks to reinvent the Invisible Man. All of the fear and questions of insanity remain, but I didn’t really get the feeling that this was a monster-flick akin to the instant classics that elevated these characters into such enduring popularity. Adrian is a monster, yes, but he is certainly no Dr. Jack Griffin from the 1933 original.
While there is a noticeable lack of franchise opportunity with The Invisible Man, it seems that was quite intentional on behalf of everyone involved. This is a great approach for Universal after the Dark Universe failed to take off because it allows the focus to return to storytelling. If this is an example of what the future holds for the iconic horror characters, it seems we are in for a real treat.
The Invisible Man will undoubtedly hold up well over the years with it’s cultural importance, fundamentally sound writing, exceptional performances and ability to scare audiences with relatable fear.
This is one you just won’t want to miss.
Smart, socially relevant and most of all, truly frightening, The Invisible Man captures the terrors of what made this character a horror icon while putting a fresh spin on the material to tell a story that is simply captivating.
The Invisible Man (2020): I’m Not Crazy
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Acting - 9.5/109.5/10
- Music - 9.5/109.5/10
- Production - 9.5/109.5/10
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