The Invisible Man (2020)-REVIEW

A major studio remaking one of their older properties? Their intention certainly isn’t invisible.

If I haven’t driven you away yet, you may be happy to hear that this is a remake that is not only pretty good, but does enough to change the story so that it feels like it’s own entity and not just a carbon copy of the original.

The Invisible Man is, of course, inspired by the 1930s Universal monster film of the same name, where a man becomes mad with power after discovering how to become invisible. This is far from the first film to be inspired by this story, with Memoirs of an Invisible Man and Hallow Man both taking a crack at the mythos with varying degrees of success. What this new film does, however, is it takes the spotlight off of the titular translucent villain and instead focuses on his victim.

Elizabeth Moss portrays protagonist Cecelia, a woman recently escaped from her abusive and manipulative boyfriend Adrian. When Adrian is one day pronounced dead and leaving all of his money to Cecelia, she becomes convinced he’s still stalking her and desperately tries to get her friends and family to believe her.

Elizabeth Moss as Cecelia

When you have an invisible antagonist, you need a protagonist that carry the film almost solely on their own. For the most part, Moss’s performance is excellent in that she portrays a survivor of abuse who is unwilling to accept everything is what it seems. She’s such a powerhouse of a performer that she’s incredibly easy to get behind and root for. The downward spiral of her sanity is believable and heartbreaking when you realize her dilemma is a very real issue. Sure, there aren’t actual invisible men running around, by emotional manipulation in abusive relationships can make someone feel as if they’re always being watched, as if their controller is always finding some way to know what you’re doing and what you’re saying.

This film does an excellent job at generating that feeling of hopelessness, where you are the only person that believes you. Yet, the movie never really leaves any room for interpretation. I feel like this isn’t really a spoiler, considering the trailers already give it away and the movie is called The Invisible Man, but you pretty much know Cecelia is right all along. There’s never really a moment where you have to guess if she’s really being stalked by an unseen force or if the trauma she’s enduring is getting the best of her. This may leave little to the imagination, but I believe I understand why they chose to make it so straightforward.

This is obviously a story about a woman trying to get people to believe her abuse. It’s obvious what is happening to us, but not to the people around her who are willing to right her off as crazy. The film puts us in the shoes of someone we know is telling the truth, but as history has proven time and time again, that’s not always enough. Its frustrating and anguishing to have no one believe you until it might be too late. This happens to women every day, and this film uses it as a framework to give new meaning to an idea that has been around for decades.

The message is strong and clear, but the film still suffers from dumb decisions and leaps of logic that seem to plague horror movies constantly. Side characters seem to turn on Cecelia so easily without question. Conveniences for the sake of the plot pop up multiple times. Cecelia herself even makes some questionable decisions when trying to get people to believe her. Some moments are a little hard to believe, and for a movie that wants to be a grounded horror film there’s a lot of holes in the plot that are hard to ignore.

The “horror” of this film can be a bit hit or miss. While the film utilizes silence, darkness, and slow movements somewhat effectively, there’s sometimes no payoff. The film is also littered with sharp, jump-scare noise ques. There’s maybe at least one moment where it feels warranted, but other than that they just feel like they are trying to hit a quota of making people jump because of a loud noise.

Elisabeth Moss (center, foreground) as Cecilia Kass in “The Invisible Man,” written and directed by Leigh Whannell.

What we ended up getting with this reinterpretation is honestly far better than what I think a lot of people, myself including, were expecting. With the failure of The Mummy, I was afraid Universal was still trying to move forward with their Avengers-style monster team up they described as The Dark Universe. Luckily for us, we got a semi-unique film that blends several different ideas and genres into a coherent and entertaining story. It’s certainly one of the better Blumhouse movies to come out in recent memory, and hopefully it will set a new trend for studios to put some effort into rebooting an existing property.

Or they’ll just latch onto whatever is big at the time. What can you do?

Rating

(out of a possible 5 floating knives)

The Invisible Man-hatten

Similarly to how The Invisible Man (2020) is a take on an old classic with a bit of a twist, I wanted to find a similar drink recipe that would reflect this. What I found was a modified Manhattan that gives it a lighter, almost translucent appearance similar to the titular terror. It utilizes white whiskey and blanc vermouth to give it a very different taste from your typical Manhattan.

Ingredients

  • 1 shot white whiskey
  • ½ shot Benedictine
  • ½ shot blanco vermouth
  • 3 dashes of orange bitters

Instructions

  1. Fill shaker with ice.
  2. Add ingredients to glass and shake vigorously.
  3. Strain into a chilled martini glass or over ice.

Video

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