The hot topic in movies this week has been the remake of the 1933 thriller “The Invisible Man,” originally directed by James Whale. The 2020 adaptation directed by Leigh Whannell stars Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia Kass, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen as the invisible man himself, Adrian Griffin.
With a 91% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has been praised among The New York Times, The Guardian, and Rolling Stone, most notably for its ability to build suspense and keep audiences on their toes.
I went to see the film in broad daylight, like every other person who hates being scared and has a strained relationship with the horror genre, and I still haven’t been able to look at an empty chair the same since. I also may or may not have screamed out loud in the theatre on two separate occasions.
It wasn’t the invisible man that scared me the most, it was the thunderous and inescapable sounds that came at times of extreme tension and anxiety that made me leap 12 feet out of my seat.
More diegetic sounds were heavily emphasized to create this drama with the audience that I haven’t experienced before in a scary movie.
I refer to it as a “scary movie” because Google calls it a “Mystery/Sci-fi” film, and that is just not correct. It was a full blown thriller.
The film was compelling and kept me feeling tense throughout its entirety. The small creaks that could be attributed to everyday sounds of a house became anything but, keeping you skeptical at all times. Not to mention the sounds that came from the invisible man erupted with such volume and power that it reminded me of “Transformers.” At the peak of my anxiety the explosion of sound did nothing to ease my fears.
The build up to get to this state of perpetual anxiety was largely due to the phenomenal shooting style. Much of the time the audience got really quirky shots that peered around corners, through doors or were positioned as though the viewer was the invisible man peering in and surveilling Cecilia.
The shots added to the suspense, because not only do they make viewers wonder if the invisible man is actually there, but they also get these still and straight shots of an empty kitchen, walls, corners, bedrooms, etc. The camera actually pans to empty spaces on purpose and just stays there for a minute, which then gets one’s mind racing.
Do I actually see something? Is that a shadow against the wall? Is someone sitting in that chair? Did I just hear a creak? Where did that knife go? I am second guessing and squinting at the screen because these shots make it feel like I should be seeing something, when most of the time I actually can’t.
The movie makes me feel like Cecilia— living in a world where I know he’s there and nobody believes me. I just want to scream at her sometimes and let her know that I see it too, which is a staple for scary movies, but this somehow feels different.
I think the invisibility frustrates me because it could absolutely happen in real life. As we learn, the invisible suit is made up of thousands of little camera lenses that do something nifty with the optics so that Adrian can’t be seen.
My friend and I left the movie absolutely convinced that this was the 2020 version of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, and that it is actually out there somewhere. For sure, someone has this or has the technology to make something like this.
The film also touches on domestic abuse and gaslighting. It was actually so realistic to see a female character experiencing and dealing with this trauma without painting her as some poor damaged princess that needed rescuing. She was smart, calculated and a fighter the whole way through.
Something I really respect in film is an effective plot twist that makes one gasp and rethink everything they just saw, and “The Invisible Man” hit the mark on that, too.
I counted three times where something happened in the film and I was just absolutely floored. The movie was creative and clever with its plotline. Sometimes with films like this, there are plotlines where a twist can be seen coming, one that is so predictable that an eye roll just isn’t enough.
With this film, the twists were twisted and that is what kept me on my toes. It answered every question and none of them at the same time. Viewers could not guess what came next and that is why audiences are so pleased with the outcome.
The way that the filmmakers make me question myself throughout the film and the constant twists and turns that made the film unpredictable were enough to make the two hours of anxiety and stress, worth it.
The way this film ended, I suspect there might be room for a sequel in the future. This time perhaps with “The Invisible Woman” as the title?