“Being invisible makes you powerful.” -Hanan Muzafar
The reboot, the remake, the re-do, the re-whatever it is chances are it’s going to be nothing more than the shell of what it’s ripping off or pulling from. So often the soul of a film is what makes it a lasting presence among the plethora of media that is released on a daily basis. The soul is what makes it special, that thing, that intangible warm and fuzzy feeling that lets you know you are watching something good, something to revel in. When words like sequel or re-something get thrown around it’s often motivated by nothing more complicated than hopes for a profit and that can feel… dirty. But every now and then that “special” I spoke of comes along surprising everyone who simply gives it a chance.
First thing that comes to mind although not a sequel or rehash is John Wick. It appeared to be a forgettable action movie where Keanu Reeves phones in everything and ends it with a couple woes to really sell it. Instead we are now three films into the franchise with a fourth on the way, spinoffs in the works including a television series. This all happened though because a group of people gave a shit about what they were creating and decided the status quo of heavily edited, shaky-cam action sequences needed to die. They made martial arts magic and in the process a new hero and resurgence of the ageless wonder, Mr. Reeves himself. They provided a soul. And here we are still talking about these movies and this character, it’s lasting.
Right now we’re in the early months of the year which so often means garbage cinema at its worst. Without the rain we cannot enjoy the rainbows so in the midst of movies so awful it’s borderline offensive (Fantasy Island…) we get special, unexpected gems like The Invisible Man. Wait, a remake, a reimagining that actually adds something to the mythos rather than burying it in the ground, still writhing around like a body buried alive? I know, I’m as surprised as you are. But yeah, The Invisible Man not only works as an homage, it is something that stands entirely on its own as a horror/thriller, sci-fi hybrid that not only speaks on modern day issues it simply and brilliantly creates a viable, lasting film with a soul.
Rather than the mindlessness we were expecting, The Invisible Man is a spectacular exercise in proper pacing and finding the menace in such an outlandish premise. The characters matter, their feelings and fears are important and add to the overall unease it’s trying to achieve. The performances are engaging and believable, especially Elisabeth Moss who gives one of the best performances of 2020 so far. If she doesn’t believe what’s happening then we can’t and because of her unabashed conviction to the paranoia and hopelessness of her character we are taken on a ride that is absolutely bonkers. Her deterioration into madness is a breathtaking experience that Moss completely nails; she is tremendous here.
One half of the Aussie duo responsible for the Saw franchise, Insidious franchise, and recently another unexpected success, the delightfully violent sci-fi actioner, Upgrade, Leigh Whannell, returns with his most confident and risky project yet with The Invisible Man. Helming this film and writing its screenplay, Whannell is in complete command and his growing confidence is evident in every frame. Much like Upgrade, the camera itself is a character, a driver of the plot pulling us along willingly or otherwise into situations both precarious and downright horrific. There are times when a simple shot holding longer than normal speaks volumes, indicating something isn’t quite right. Is someone there in the vacant kitchen or the empty bedroom? It’s always a question at the back of your mind as you watch leaving you in a constant state of tension, feeling as though you can never relax.
I mentioned the outlandish nature of this story and it is but the reality of fear of those once loved now a betrayer is never lost to the more ludicrous moments of invisible men and pure mayhem. At the core of this tale is a woman in fear for her life from the one man she thought loved her. A boyfriend turned manipulator in every aspect of her life as left her lost, a shell of a human seeking help in whatever way she can. It is a commentary on toxic relationship tendencies such as manipulation of character and how a person is presented to the world. The concept of “If I can’t have you, no one can” isn’t a romantic notion but rather a prison of self both physically and mentally, often with dire results. She must face this in her former lover as his mental state is far from stable but his intelligence and ability to influence others to his will is unprecedented. He is a sociopathic genius with funds to spare. He is formidable and quite literally unseen making him a truly nightmarish villain.
The Invisible Man is a welcome surprise at the tail end of February signaling once again that the horror genre is far from dead. The premise while implausible never feels so as it goes for the throat at all times. The mastery behind the camera and the performances in front make this one of the best films of 2020, so far of course. I would like to add that it would be remiss of me not to mention the otherworldly, intimidating musical score by Benjamin Wallfisch that elevates this entire film to another level. The scope of the music is sweeping and electric with sounds that emote pure restlessness. It is something I cannot understate the importance of as it takes something already wonderful and turns into something quite phenomenal. From top to bottom, The Invisible Man is fantastic and should not be missed. This is the kind of film that rekindles my passion for the art of cinema. What a pleasant surprise!
Rated R For: some strong bloody violence, and language
Runtime: 124 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer, Aldis Hodge
Directed By: Leigh Whannell
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4.5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below:
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