- Oct 25, 2017
Invisible Man was so good. I had rewatched Hollow Man the day before and this was the perfect palette cleanser. Not just is Whannell's film the thematic antithesis of Hollow Man, there are more than a few scenes with similar concepts, so the differences in execution were fascinating.
The Invisible Man (2020)
The Invisible Man (2020)
Since 1897, from Gothic supervillain to gross sexual predator, the sociopathy of the Invisible Man has always been tempered by madness. The corrupting freedom of lurking unseen drives its translucent terrors insane, but that outcome is only a comforting fantasy. Whannell's reinvented Invisible Man grounds Universal’s classic monster in raw emotion and calculated cruelty. In this sci-fi horror-thriller, madness threatens the victim, rather than motivating the villain.
Empty spaces have rarely felt as terrifying and unnerving as in 2020’s Invisible Man. Lingering camerawork and subtly unsettling framing allow negative space to imply presence, as we tensely scan the screen for signs of a menace that is most definitely standing right there. The film knows that we know its game; instead of using invisibility as an effects showcase, a minimalist approach propels the plot through patient suspense and sinister unease. An open door here, a footprint there, escalating towards inevitable confrontation. However, when the bloodshed arrives, Whannell proves that his cyberpunk actioner wasn’t a fluke; legitimately shocking violence, cloaked brutality, and a stylish hospital rampage means Invisible Man delivers some very satisfying thrills.
The twisted tech genius Griffin of this film is only visibly onscreen for a scant few minutes, mostly existing as a silent stalking entity. But by the end, we know his character well. That’s all a testament to Elizabeth Moss’ powerhouse performance and Invisible Man’s emotional upgrade over Upgrade. That previous movie felt stilted at times, but the characters in Invisible Man are very human and relatable. We never see the domestic abuse suffered by Cecilia, but her pained accounts, weary countenance, lasting trauma and fears ensure that her suffering is deeply felt. Griffin may be invisible but we see his evil through her psychological scars and desperation. Similarly, her friends and family having such genuine humanity allows the gaslighting manipulations to really sting when the consequences come to a head. An invisible stalker is scary, but having your life methodically obliterated while no one believes you is scarier.
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say Whannell’s film is the best example of a classic horror reimagining since The Thing and The Fly. Almost a century after Claude Rains threatened the moon, The Invisible Man brilliantly reinvents the concept with a film that could only exist today with its perspective, themes, and sleek style.