The Invisible Man (2020)
the invisible man | leigh whannell | elisabeth moss | oliver jackson-cohen | harriet dyer | universal | remake | mystery | sci-fi | sci fi | thriller | australia | united states | Canada | mad scientist | based on | novel | h.g. wells | blumhouse | aldis hodge | storm reid
Film: The Invisible Man
Director: Leigh Whannell
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Harriet Dyer
This was a movie that when I first about it, I was intrigued with what they were going to do. I know there had been some attempts to remake some of the Universal classics and possible try to do a universe like we’ve seen in Marvel or DC. It is also interesting that the original movies had a bunch of sequels, which could work toward this idea if it hasn’t been scrapped. The Invisible Man is one of my favorite from those original runs from then. I’m also giving it a second viewing as I needed a movie with an invisible person for an October Movie Challenge. The synopsis here is when Cecilia’s (Elisabeth Moss) abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune. She suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, she works to prove she’s being hunted by someone nobody can see.
We start this with Cecilia waking up in the middle of the night. She’s being extra careful as she’s in bed with her boyfriend, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). We do see that she drugged him, but still doesn’t want to alert him as she collects her things. There is a plan that has a lot of pieces as she flees into the night. It gets messed up when she accidentally sets off his car alarm. She makes it to the road where she waits for her sister. The tension builds until Emily Kass (Harriet Dyer) appears. Adrian breaks the window as they speed off.
She stays with a friend, James Lanier (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid). This has been done in secret. Cecilia has not left the house since arriving which has been two weeks. She gets upset when her sister shows up. As she is scolding her stating that Adrian will use her to find Cecilia, Emily reveals that Adrian killed himself. It becomes even more of a shock when a letter arrives for her at James’ place. As stated, no one really knows that she’s staying there. It is from Tom Griffin (Michael Dorman). He’s a lawyer and the brother of Adrian. He’s tasked with managing the estate. He reveals that Adrian left her 5 million dollars to be paid out monthly for the next 4 years or so.
Cecilia decides to do nice things for her hosts, including helping Sydney go to college. The problem is that weird things start to happen around Cecilia as well. She thinks someone is watching her. There’s a moment where blankets seem to be moving and things happen during a job interview she cannot explain. She suspects that since Adrian was one of the foremost in optics in the world, that he faked his dead and has found a way to be invisible. Is she just breaking down thinking this or is something really happening to her?
Since I laid out here my thoughts on how much I really liked the original, I thought that writer/director Leigh Whannell has some good things to play with here. What makes this scary is that the power to become invisible is really something that can corrupt. Heck, I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I trust myself if I had the ability to become invisible that I wouldn’t do some pretty horrible things myself. This is legitimately terrifying, even more so when you have a guy like Adrian with this ability.
Now I’m clearly a male so I’ve never been in a relationship like Cecilia. I’ve taken to talking to my girlfriend, Jaime, about her thoughts on this and she really liked the movie. I’ve also seen a horror writer online that I respect and how she said this movie brought up memories of being in a relationship similar to that. I personally found that to be the most terrifying part of this movie. I’m not saying this to spoil the movie, but I think that is the scariest thing is that no one believes her. This takes it to the extreme with things that happen in the movie, but it really is horrible that in society, we don’t believe when women in relationship are not believed or a blind eye is taken to it. Seeing the fear on Cecilia was painful for me to watch as it felt real. I have to commend how strong of an actress she is. I hope it’s not the case, but I would believe that she is drawing for at least some kind of a real experience.
Something I want to add here after this second viewing is Adrian is gas-lighting Cecilia. I’ll admit, I didn’t necessarily know what that word meant until this viewing. This is an interesting way of doing it, because he is doing different things and then making her take the fall for it. He is pushing the idea that one will believe her.
Going from there, to an extent cannot blame those for not believing her in the case of this movie. How can you in a rational world? I think this adds to the fear as well. It is really genius how this plays out as well. During the execution of the will, Tom tells Cecilia that she cannot be convicted of the crime or the will becomes void. What better way to control someone than to drive them insane to control them and frame them so she has to decide. Do you want the money or do you want your freedom? I think in the case with Cecilia and most, it would be peace of mind over the financial piece. This movie does play with that more though with the amount of money is life altering. Is it enough though for what is possible being done to her though?
The dynamics around her are interesting as well. Emily is someone who is strong woman which I think Dyer does a great job at portraying. Something happens that upsets her toward Emily and it creates a divide between the two. It isn’t done in truth and I really like how strong Cecilia and Emily both are. As a male, as I don’t feel I have a fragile ego, I want to see more of that in my movies until it becomes normal. Some might feel that is pandering, but regardless that’s how I feel. We also get an interesting character in James and his daughter Sydney. Something happens where they need space and I can’t fault him as he has to protect her even over Cecilia. I think Hodge and Reid portray their characters very well.
There are two more characters I want to talk about, but I won’t for one until a brief spoiler section at the end. I do want to talk about Tom here. There’s an interesting reveal with him during a scene with Cecilia when she’s locked up. I love that he reveals that he feels similar to her in that Adrian had control over him and that he’s glad that his brother is gone as well. The reason I like this is going back to where people know bad relationships are happening and are just complacent in doing anything. It is heartbreaking.
It is also paced in a way where it never got boring. I saw that it had a runtime over 120 minutes, so I was curious how things would play out. The only time I might have issues would be the final sequence which I’ll delve into a bit in the spoiler section. It really isn’t how it plays out, but just how a character is played that for me didn’t fit. Jaime disagreed, but I’ll get into that. I think it effective built the story. Things get progressively worse until a satisfying conclusion. I like the ending overall as well.
That takes me to the effects, which I was curious. I knew in this day and age we would have to go CGI. Surprisingly I thought that were solid. There’s a scene in the rain that I was worried about and it was handled very well. The things that were done were good and there are just very minor complaints during the climax. Not enough to ruin anything, but just something that I noticed overall. Something was brought up and after this rewatch, I’m there as well. The suit seems to make the person wearing it have super strength. To an extent some of these things could be done, but not all of them. On top of that, the cameras used in this suit would make some kind of noise. That is an issue as well. The cinematography I thought was very well done as well and is strategic in my opinion.
Now with that said, I really liked this movie. It is really a sad tale that is based in reality, but seeing it taken to the extreme. I thought the performances really help to build this realism, especially from Moss. The concept is really good as well. Despite its longer runtime, I think that it never got boring and aside from the final scene, it ends in a way that I like. The CGI has some minor issues. Nothing to ruin it and the soundtrack fit for what was ended. This is a really good movie, borderline on great and will be a contender for the year end if I’m going to be honest. Upon this rewatch during October, my rating has come down slightly. I still think this is really good though. It still should be seen and still a contender for my year end.
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10
It turns out that Adrian is in fact not dead. I don’t think this is a surprise with revealing what his field of expertise is, the name of the movie and the things that we’re seeing. I think that if it actually was in her head, I would have hated this movie. I do like the playing with if she’s crazy or not though as that sticks with the theme of gas-lighting. Also having those around her not believing her really does help with the realism. This really does correlate with how many women really do feel as I’ve said, plus in a normal world we couldn’t believe in an invisible man.
What I really want to delve into is that at the reveal, Tom is found inside of the suit and that Adrian is found tied up in his basement. Cecilia doesn’t believe this even though the evidence around her is pointing to it. My issue here is that Adrian doesn’t seem to be the mastermind that she believes. She is wearing a wire with James listening outside. Jaime thought this was done that way as Adrian being the mastermind he is, knows he’s listening and that he’s portraying the story he’s spinning. This does work against him with what Cecilia does as I love the chess game that is played at that final dinner and the piece of mind she gains as well. I just don’t get the vibe and it might be the actor Oliver Jackson-Cohen that doesn’t fit to the things that we see throughout the movie.
There is a part where Adrian is throwing people around and Jaime didn’t buy the strength and my argument is that madness can enhance strength even though scientifically this is proven to be untrue. What I do know is that we have things in our brain where we prevent ourselves from going too far and when we’re not using our conscious like someone who’s crazy and that’s in part how they can kill people as well. With a second viewing, I agree. There are some moments it is over the top and it does hurt the movie for me.