By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Even though Universal’s Dark Universe plans are no more, it won’t stop me from seeking out The Invisible Man. Leigh Whannell‘s take with the classic H.G. Wells story goes into new places. His modern day discourse even hints at a greater terror–about those methods where stalking comes easy in this digital age. This writer-director is in fine form, adding elements of a possible ghost. How he approached making this tale modern is far more innovative than the Insidious series.
However, we all know that this tale is more of a science fiction tale and the revelation of Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen who barely gets enough screen time for a reason) as a brilliant optics engineer says it all. He’s created an invisible cloaking technology and put it in the form of a suit. It’s the ultimate in espionage, as long as the wearer doesn’t make a stupid move to reveal him or herself.
Elisabeth Moss plays Cecilia Kass, the former girlfriend of Griffin. She excellently channels the anxiety in Brie Larson’s portrayal in The Room. How can anyone escape being a victim? While one movie is more about seclusion and keeping a person in chains, Invisible Man looks more at the psychological destruction that can be wrought. Cecilia is having difficulty with a new life. She has a cop James Lanier (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid) to help. Just how long they’ve known each other is quickly glossed on, but when it comes to whether or not they believe her about a ‘ghost’ (or not), it’d take witnessing the incredible take place.
To let a supposedly empty shot fill the screen for about ten seconds speaks volumes, even though I strained to see if any CGI work was done, to which there was none. Griffin is as cunning as he is patient. He’s not a joe with relationship problems. Instead, as Cecilia revealed, he simply wants to get under everyone’s skin.
When we see this silent predator, the reveal isn’t unexpected. When paint or even rain hits the suit, it should leave an outline. As for when he stalks his prey, I wondered if the director was paying homage to Predator and the way he hunts. The soundscape offered in this action moment says yes. Ultimately, I feel this film does justice for the #metoo movement. Cecilia gains strength. Much like Sarah Connor in Terminator, she needs to become something else by the end of the first movies. A sequel, The Invisible Woman, is being pitched and as for whether that’s a go, I can only hope she’ll take her experience and go forward doing good for all.
I feel it’s possible to reintroduce a Dark Universe without using the blockbuster formula. The architects need to develop it slowly over time and not reveal how the dots connect. Just leave it mysterious. Like the Invisible Man, we need the Masters of Horror in the scripting and directing to make it work. I really want Sam Raimi to get involved. I feel he’ll do justice to Creature from the Black Lagoon.
4 Stars out of 5