Finally, I can get the taste of The Mummy (2017) out of my mouth. I love Universal’s monster movies, growing up on Karloff and Lugosi the way some kids grew up on various colors of Power Ranger (I watched that show too). These creatures formed the original cinematic universe way back in the 30s and 40s, but lately everyone else wants to get in on what Marvel accomplished and make their own. Universal thought, “Hey, we did this before anyone else so we can probably do it again,” and promptly blew it before they got more than one movie out of the gate.
Enter Leigh Whannell.
Way back in 2016 and 2017, before we were living in a nightmare hellscape where I can’t wipe my ass because there’s no toilet paper and America was only starting to be led by a bumbling oaf, the #MeToo movement tore through Hollywood and America at large. Abuse of power, sexual assault, control of one’s own body, and the male gaze were suddenly no longer just something joked about or hidden away but rather directly confronted. 2020’s The Invisible Man is an update on the H.G. Wells classic that was made for this era. It’s expertly shot, insanely tense, and gives Elizabeth Moss one of the best performances of her career. I loved every minute of it.
Moss plays Cecilia Kass, an escapee from her boyfriend Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). She’s aided by her sister, Emily (Harriet Dyer), and crashes with friend James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid). Her life takes on a sense of faux-normalcy, quietly living as an agoraphobe and fearful of even going to get the mail after a couple of weeks. When the news comes that Adrian committed suicide after her escape she’s relieved and flush with cash, all contingent on her obeying the law and not going crazy. So of course…she starts going crazy. It’s all been prompted by an invisible man, but that’s a hard sell to everyone around her.
Our lead actress does some beautiful work portraying a survivor in Cecilia. Like many abusive, narcissistic, awful people…Adrian was charming. He was also violent and abusive, and it’s implied that she was raped regularly when Adrian felt he needed to correct her. The man wanted a baby, sealing the deal and trapping her forever, and his controlling behavior affected not only his girlfriend but his blood-relatives and even his dog. Cecilia is panicked, frightened of going outside, and shows many signs of what those going through abuse deal with. When Adrian begins fucking with her it’s impossible to get anyone to buy it. He begins alienating everyone in her life and isolating her. I’ll admit, selling that your ex-boyfriend has turned invisible and faked his death all to mess with you is a pretty tough story to get onboard with, but it’s rough to consider that so many survivors spent time trying to get people to believe them and it makes everything troubling.
Outside of what the film represents in modern American culture…it’s just fantastic. From the opening escape scene to the final moments it remains intense, eerie, and gloriously unsettling. Some of the CGI work on the invisibility feels a tad wonky, but it never detracts from the story or the pacing. Tightly edited, gorgeously shot, and cruel in how much it makes you WAIT for your thrills, Whannell’s film feels more akin to Blatty’s The Exorcist III than it does any of the other recent attempts at a monster film. The score pairs perfectly with what the film represents, mixing old and new musical elements to create an intense ambiance that brings a classic story into a new world.
Due to COVID-19 and theatre attendance being low as hell you can now watch The Invisible Man streaming in your home! It’s a steep rental price, 48 hours for $19.99, but it costs about as much as two movie tickets for date night and it comes with commentaries, deleted scenes, and other little goodies. It’s worth your time an I urge you to try it out!