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Thursday, March 5, 2020

Review: The Invisible Man

Director: Leigh Whannell
Screenplay: Leigh Whannell
Year: 2020

Since a while back Universal Pictures has been considering the option of reviving their classic monsters, them being The Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the one that concerns us now, The Invisible Man. After the flop that was “The Mummy” in 2017, many thought that this was the end of that initiative, but Universal decided to try it once more with a shift in perspective. For “The Invisible Man” they opted to pass it to Jason Blum and his production company Blumhouse Productions and give it a modest budget to create a modern vision of a classic monster. 

Tired of the abuse suffered at the hands of her husband, Cecilia develops a plan to escape their house. Not long after she manages to break free, she receives the news that her husband died, but instead of feeling relieved, she starts feeling like he is stalking her. Cecilia suspects that him being an optics expert, he has found the way to turn himself invisible and now is dedicated to harm all those around her in a way that makes everyone think that she is paranoid.

This new version of “The Invisible Man” in the hands of writer and director Leigh Whannell, known for his co-starring role in “Saw” and for writing and directing “Insidious: Chapter 3” and “Upgrade” seeks to adapt to modern times making a few changes to its story, focus, and characters. The beginning of the movie makes it clear that the plot will be based around domestic abuse, a topic that has garnered notoriety in recent years thanks to the #MeToo movement, and that it will focus more on the victim rather than on the Invisible Man itself. It also uses this section to showcase the suspense with which it will develop the rest of the movie.

While the classic story, exemplifies in movies such as “The Invisible Man” of 1933 and “Hollow Man”, presents the source of invisibility as a serum that after being injected into someone’s bloodstream makes them invisible but progressively more unstable and violent, this new version changes that argument. This time we start with an unstable and violent man who, through invisibility achieved with optics, loses his inhibitions by being able to escape the consequences of his actions. In this story, the psychological side plays an extremely important role focusing plenty of attention on post-traumatic stress disorder, and how the husband is such a great manipulator, so well portrayed that his ability transcends the screen and makes the viewer doubt on a few occasions. 

Whannell’s script opts for showing more than telling (ironic given the theme) and depends a lot on the emotions that his cast is able to project. In this aspect, a great jog is done especially by the protagonist Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) who is capable of evoking emotions with ease allowing the viewer to always be able to understand what is going through her mind without needing much dialogue. However, the script does suffer from some plot holes, especially in the final stretch.

“The Invisible Man” gives enough arguments to Universal Pictures to continue with their idea of reviving the classic monsters and makes it clear that a disproportionate budget is not needed if it’s put in competent hands. The suspense and intrigue that director and screenwriter Leigh Whannell achieves glorified by Elisabeth Moss’ acting together with the surprising turns, violent moments and special effects keep the viewer at the edge of the seat. This new version of The Invisible Man adapted to modern times can be criticized for not following the lore of the classical monster but makes for one of the best versions of it.

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