The Invisible Man

Lots of movies have been rescheduled due to COVID-19’s impact on world box offices, but a few movies were released just as things got tricky and got short shrift releases. Movie studios are fighting back but they’re basically inventing their responses as we go so right now they’re experimenting with what people at home might tolerate. Disney released Frozen 2 early on its Disney+ platform, and Onward will soon follow, on April 3rd, which is a real coup for parents who are dealing with the challenges of having kids on their hands full-time.

Universal took 3 of their big titles – Emma, The Invisible Man, and The Hunt, each of which were performing as well as they could at theatres where attendance has been understandably low – and that was before they all closed down indefinitely. So each of these titles has been released for early rental, at a premium. They’re called Home Premieres and they rent for $20 for 48 hours. It’s certainly more than you’d normally pay to rent a movie but it’s quite reasonable compared to a night at the cinema – you can provide your own snacks, your own wine, you don’t need a babysitter, and as an extra bonus, you won’t put your health at risk from exposure to germs.

You’ve already seen our review for Emma, which we very much liked and very much thought was well worth the 20 bucks.

The Invisible Man, however, is a whole other thing, isn’t it? We all know I’m a chicken and there wasn’t a slightest chance of my seeing this in theatres. Sean and I stopped going to movies well before the theatres closed since I’m high risk for the virus, with both an underlying illness and immuno-suppressing medication, but let’s face it: the true reason is that I’m just too fragile for horror. And though I’ve made exceptions for exceptional films (A Quiet Place, The Witch, and Midsommar, for example), I felt comfortable not making an exception for this, though it was relatively well reviewed.

But now that it’s available for Home Premiere, it seemed like the perfect chance to step outside my comfort zone while in the privacy of my own bedroom.

Basically, Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) goes to great lengths to leave her abusive boyfriend. She’s clearly terrified of him but he’s a respected scientist and inventor, and his money has gone a long way in insulating him from repercussions. He’s been controlling but with the help of her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) and friend James (Aldis Hodge), she’s able to slip away – barely. He soon after takes his own life, but Cecilia isn’t convinced. She becomes haunted by a presence – she believes it to be her supposedly dead ex, Adrian, but that theory doesn’t hold a whole lot of water with anyone else. I mean, how do you prove that your ex is so vindictive he faked his own death to taunt you via some invisibility cloak? Try it, I dare you. It doesn’t go well for Cecilia. She’s mistaken for a raving lunatic, but Adrian’s invisible actions are getting increasingly violent and looking crazy is the least of her worries.

Director Leigh Whannell creates and sustains a painfully tense atmosphere from start to finish, constantly ratcheting up the stakes and guaranteeing our breathing is shallow at best.

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I had help getting through the movie: dogs, and caramel popcorn, and some eyebrow tutorials on Youtube. But I still screamed a few times and even upturned the popcorn bowl (which was mercifully lidded at the time). Like any good horror movie, the director knows that your own imagination will always be far worse than anything he can conjure, so he allows for lots of lingering, vaguely threatening shots containing worlds of possibility around every corner. And the score by  Benjamin Wallfisch informs your anxiety, feeds it, and capitalizes on it.

Mostly I got through the movie by telling myself it was basically a comic book movie and that this is exactly what they were warning us about in Civil War. At any time, some “hero”could turn villain on a dine just because his ego’s a little sore. Certainly Adrian incurs an awful lot of collateral damage in the name of revenge against the only person who’s ever left him. The suit he’s engineered is exactly the kind of tech that Iron Man might have, or Batman, and all that stands between them and villainy is a broken heart, which is alarming since the one hallmark of a so-called super hero besides their super powers is treating women like shit.

Anyway, The Invisible Man is a pretty good movie. It’s not just an exercise in jump scares, it has a wholly realized story and a character who has to reclaim her agency. Elisabeth Moss’s costar is invisible, so the whole thing rests on her very capable shoulders. She’s equally believable as both victim and conqueror. And though it wasn’t an easy watch for me, it’s survivable for even moderate wusses, which is saying something indeed.

13 thoughts on “The Invisible Man

  1. selizabryangmailcom

    It had some good moments, but we had several problems with it.
    But I don’t wanna rain on the parade…and in the end, it was very watchable.

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  2. Widdershins

    I think I’m done watching films where women get terrorised by deranged men (not that I’ve watched many anyway – not my genre) … actually I don’t ‘think’, I know I’m done. It’s too hard on the psyche and heart.
    Which is not to say that I’m ever going to stop reading your fabulous reviews, ever! 😀

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  3. Wendell W Ottley

    I enjoyed this a bit more than you, but I’m a big horror fan. That said, it’s probably more thriller than horror and works really well. Good observation on superheroes, by the way. Love the review, as always.

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  4. Liz A.

    Good to know. I hadn’t even heard of this when the theaters closed. I guess I was deliberately ignoring horror movies.

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  5. kindredspirit23

    Not paying $20 for it, but when it does drop to $9.99, I will, certainly, consider it.
    Scott
    Ps- I write horror short stories should you ever wish to read some when are not gore and horribly violent. I try to be just a little bit “Hitchcockian” about it.

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  6. kindredspirit23

    I will ask a small, appropriate favor of you two. Should you ever be lacking of a movie to review, could I suggest “The Assignment” with Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver (2016). It received bad reviews (32/100) and lost around 1.7 million at the box office. I, however, enjoyed (B – B+) and would just enjoy seeing it reviewed once more. 🙂 If you don’t like it, fine. Just thought it was worth more than regular critics.

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  7. Invisibly Me

    I hadn’t known about these ‘Home Premieres’ at such a premium price. Can’t say I’d want to pay it personally but I see the value in it compared to the cinema and it’s got to be a tough blow to the industry at the moment. Although I’d heard a little about this film, this is the first review I’ve seen for it. I quite like Elizabeth Moss and I’m a sucker for scaries, even though I tend to find horrors and thrillers pretty disappointing these days. This doesn’t sound too bad so I’ll definitely watch it at some point (just not for the UK $20 equivalent). Glad you managed to survive without any adverse effects. Not that it would matter so much if you scream or pee your pants when you’re at home.
    Caz x

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