‘The Invisible Man’

Review: ‘The Invisible Man’ is a horror film about a wealthy military tech developer who uses his intelligence to abuse, manipulate and isolate his former partner.

Jackson McMurray, Staff Contributor

“The Invisible Man” (2020) is a remake of the 1933 film in name only. Realistically, the only similarities between the two films is that there’s a guy in it you can’t see and it’s a horror movie.

The 2020 film is not about the titular man but his victim, in this case his traumatized ex-girlfriend. The invisible man is not a petulant mad scientist driven crazy by self-experimentation but a wealthy military tech developer who uses his intelligence to abuse, manipulate and isolate his former partner.

Technically, this movie is a wonder. The effects involved with the invisible man are mostly practical tricks that work spectacularly, until the third act, at which point the visual effects (VFX) work gets a lot more complicated and a lot more impressive. The artists have clearly done the work and put in the time on set to make sure everything looks as good and clean as possible. That’s absolutely imperative in a movie like this, whose momentum and believability hinge so totally on the success or failure of the VFX.

Teagan Kimbro

The Invisible Man is tense, sometimes violent and often upsetting to watch. The despair of the protagonist is visceral and the threat of villainous intervention is unrelenting. 

The camera lingers on empty space and blank walls, unoccupied rooms, all the negative space in a typically safe and comfortable area. However, you can never be sure he’s actually there, until the moment you can be.

It goes without saying that the movie is about abuse and the ways it affects women who are afflicted by it and the metaphor is thoughtful and well-executed. The movie is about speaking up and the hopelessness that comes when you realize no one will believe you. 

This invisible man can do anything he wants and no one will ever believe he’s done it. It’s a creative and ambitious movie for its modest budget which is what makes its history all the more interesting.

In 2016 Universal Studios announced they would soon be launching a bold and unique new cinematic universe, a string of interconnected films based on characters from Universal’s back catalogue of classic monster movies.

The tacit promise of the idea, called “Dark Universe,” was an interconnected Marvel-style storytelling and a climactic crossover monster mash somewhere on the horizon.

The prospect was exciting and interesting to many but there was only one problem, “The Mummy” (2017). 

The movie was the prospective franchise’s flagship film, a Tom Cruise vehicle with Sofia Boutella as the titular mummy and Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll (that’s right, of Mr. Hyde fame). 

You would be forgiven for not remembering it. I worked at a movie theater at the time and I didn’t even see it. When the idea got scrapped, the only planned project that survived was “The Invisible Man”, which would no longer be a Johnny Depp blockbuster but a Blumhouse-produced R-rated horror film.

It can be easy to forget that Universal’s monster flicks were at one time horror movies, as campy as they seem now but audiences in 1933 were terrorized by “The Invisible Man”.

 It was not a family-friendly movie star action flick. It was a mid-budget horror movie. 

“The Invisible Man” succeeds in 2020 because it understands that an invisible man is a terrifying idea. Both films are about people who are not only powerful but totally free of any social consequences.

At a time when medium-sized movies are getting harder and harder to make, an anthology horror franchise built on medium-sized, high-concept horror films is an exciting idea, and “The Invisible Man” proves there might be some merit to a Dark Universe yet.