'The Invisible Man' brings a high-tech stalker twist to an old formula

28 Février, 2020, 02:56 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • Mark Rogers  Universal

A smart and satisfyingly nasty piece of work, "The Invisible Man" has its roots in H.G. Wells' 1897 novel, which was previously adapted into the 1933 film directed by James Whale. But The Invisible Man is never as effective as you wish it would be. She's being stalked by someone she - and we - can't see.

Australian director Leigh Whannell has turned one of Universal's lesser monsters into something truly terrifying.

Cecilia spends the next two weeks in hiding, doing her best to live at her friend James's (Aldis Hodge) house with his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid) and with the terror that Adrian will show up any minute.

To be fair, her story isn't exactly believable. That all changes when Cecilia gets word that Adrian is dead, apparently by suicide. As the auto frees itself from his grasp and they drive off into the night, Cecilia doesn't sigh relief or laugh manically, violently like Sally at the end of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Yet she can not shake the feeling that Adrian is still present, due to a series of events that are minor at first-a grease fire in the kitchen, a misplaced set of plans-but soon turn violent.

Is it Adrian's ghost? It might seem like a minor flaw of The Invisible Man in how nimbly Cecilia jumps to this conclusion. But when she begins to sense an eerie presence, and notice things like an unexplained imprint on the rug, Cecilia knows that Adrian - "a world-leader in optics" capable of extreme discoveries - is still with her.

The Dark Universe went dark and instead it became snarky shorthand for what happens when a studio puts too many eggs in one precariously constructed basket. Easier said than done.

Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt called the film a little silly but heaped praise on Elisabeth Moss' performance.

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Does anyone give better struggle face than Elizabeth Moss? With the tale of an invisible villain and the horrified woman who must battle him in his rearview, Whannell's now turning his thoughts to yet another sci-fi franchise remake he's been attached to for some time, and he's willing to admit that he's at least a little intimidated. Whannell realizes how much tension he can milk from long, uneasy scenes where Moss is stalking around a seemingly empty room.

There's nothing I can tell you about the plot of the movie that you can't learn with one viewing of the film's trailer. Whannell never resorts to shameless jump-scares in these moments, but instead allows the scenes to build, and build, and build to the point where it's nearly unbearable.

And that's just the opening scene.

"One of the people in the meeting started probing me about the Invisible Man [and] what would I do with that character", Whannell said.

Beyond the more traditional horror moments like rest something even scarier: Hopelessness. Unfortunately, no one else believes Cecilia; the years of abuse and trauma have done more than make her a victim: it's rendered her incapable of reason and rationality, of taking care of herself. While horror existed long before movies (with most all of the Universal Monsters having roots in literature) and therefore brought this school of scares with something to say long before Hollywood did, it was these movies that properly kicked off a lifetime of social commentary in horror for moviegoers at large.

A few years ago, Universal announced an Invisible Man movie that would have been part of their "Dark Universe" of interconnected films based on their classic monster franchises like Frankenstein and The Mummy. What's more, early reviews of the film indicate that it takes on these issues with care rather than in a fashion that plays out like exploitation. The scary part isn't whether or not all of this is really happening.

There have been 20 other adaptations for cinema of The Invisible Man, 11 of the War of The Worlds (not including the recent BBC TV three-parter) and scores of other versions of his books.

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