“The Invisible Man” Horror Film Review

You won’t believe your eyes! Finally, a remake of a classic horror film that has the soul of the original yet feels completely fresh. Just when the Universal Monsters were about to be sealed in their coffins and sarcophaguses for all eternity, following the abysmal Mummy remake in 2016, writer-director Leigh Whannell delivers an excellent horror film that proves to us that a remake of a classic film can work! While the Invisible Man may not be in the cultural zeitgeist to the same degree that Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster (tho, creation is more precise), the Creature from the Black Lagoon, or the Mummy are, he is the Universal Monster that is by far the most psychotic, sharing a lot in common with the modern slasher. Furthermore, the Invisible Man demonstrates negative psycho-social characteristics, when exhibited by people in real life and not in check, are utterly terrifying. Perhaps the trademark characteristic of the Invisible Man is his uncanny genius that ostensibly isolates him both psychologically and spatially from society; moreover, this self-imposed isolation gives way to the extreme superiority complex that fuels the disconnect with mankind. Unlike a psychopath, the Invisible Man is fully aware of what he is doing, so he is much more of a sociopath. Sociopaths are cognitively aware of the violent or otherwise destructive acts he or she is committing, and that makes them far more dangerous than psychopaths. In order to provide audiences with a new experience, not only does Whannell update the science behind just how the invisibility works, but he also shifts focus to a different central character. Instead of the Invisible Man, it is Elisabeth Moss whom takes center stage as our tormented central character. Keep your ever watchful eyes wide open because you will see that everything in the film is both incredibly interesting and has everything to do with the plot.

The Invisible Man written and directed by horror veteran Leigh Whannell is a remake of the classic Universal Monster horror film by the same name and an adaptation of the original novel by H.G. Wells. When Cecilia’s (Elisabeth Moss) abusive ex Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see. Her explanations fall on seemingly deaf ears as the evidence seems hollow. (IMDb)

The strength in this remake lies in the excellent screenplay by Whannell. While all the technical and creative elements work incredibly well, it is the strong visual storytelling and plotting that forms such a solid foundation for reimagining The Invisible Man for a 21st century audience. You will find elements of the classic film Gaslight, H.G. Wells’ original novel, and the original 1933 Universal film. Cecilia is a compelling character with immense depth because she is experiencing psychological and physical abuse that may have a supernatural component but feels unapologetically real, nevertheless. Whannell’s Invisible Man is a character-driven story that explores the psychological toll that one experiences when the world does not believe you, no matter how disturbing the evidence. In this case, it’s domestic abuse turned other mass violent acts, including murder, but it could just as easily be any number of major and minor abuses that are difficult to prove especially when the world doesn’t believe you. Moss’ Cecilia is a relatable character for anyone that has ever been unsuccessful in convincing the world of your trauma and abuse. She carries the weight of her abusive relationship around with her every minute of everyday. Even before Adrian was truly terrorizing her in a sadistic poltergeist-like fashion, his specter was already haunting her. This film provides an avenue for Whannell to explore the far-reaching abuse sustained by Cecilia at the hands of a–by the world’s standards–a great man of scientific achievement and intellect.

We see very little of the Invisible Man, but this only helps the film deliver outstanding tension and suspense. Because we cannot see the Invisible Man, we are constantly looking for him in every corner of the screen. Suspense is achieved through not relying on the actions of the Invisible Man, but rather on the absence of him. Once his capabilities are established, and we get that first glimpse into his sadistic actions, then we go relatively long periods of nothing from him. And that is precisely what this film needed! This staggering of Invisible Man moments delays what we are expecting, thus building solid suspense. Whannell takes a page out of the Alfred Hitchcock handbook by transferring the horror on screen into the minds of the audience. Here, the horrors are such much more visceral and lasting. The Invisible Man’s torments of Cecilia start out small and then grow with intensity. And not just the same kinds of torments, but strategically different ones that When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see. every aspect of her life. His goal is to cut her off from everyone and everything, including her own sanity. Only then, can he control and manipulate her to the extent he desires. Each attack on Cecelia, or someone close to her, disconnects her from that which is familiar and makes her feel safe. Like a lion separating prey from the larger group, in order to move in for the kill, Adrian is calculating in his movements.

The score and cinematography are right out of a classic monster horror movie! Much like A Quiet Place relies upon the power of silence to heighten the senses and keep, The Invisible Man also uses strategically placed moments of silence to create a fantastic sense of unease that keeps you on edge. The score in this film does a terrific job of setting the mood and tone right from the very beginning; furthermore, the score feels like a direct extension of the emotional beats of every scene. The cinematography may not have anything in particularly stylistic about it, but the framing of each scene is perfectly executed. Each frame is so important to us because we are always looking for little signs of the Invisible Man. It’s like Whannell was playing a game with us! There are shots framed in such a way that you think the Invisible Man is going to make some kind of appearance, but he usually doesn’t. But you will be convinced you saw him, and that is such a fun part of the movie. It’s not only the plot that keeps us guessing, but each and every shot does the same!

Elizabeth Moss’ performance as Cecilia was nothing short of an outstanding achievement! From the moment we first meet her to her last frame, she delivers a compelling performance that will stick with you long after you leave the cinema What’s truly mindblowing is the fact she is playing off nobody (in real life anyway). It’s just her on that set and the film crew, and that’s it. Not only does she wow us with her terrifyingly convincing facial expressions, but her entire body is fully engaged in each and every moment. Never once do I see the actor, I see only her character of Cecilia. While I know Moss is an accomplished actor from her past roles, including last year’s Us, she surpassed all of my expectations of her acting. Her performance is right up there with Toni Collette’s in Hereditary. This isn’t simply a great delivery for a horror film, it’s a superlative performance for any film period. And it’s not just in her more manic scenes; even in the calmer scenes, the subtleties of each movement, twitch, glare are hauntingly authentic and leap off the screen. The central character of a motion picture is our conduit into the story in order to vicariously experience the plot and emotions. Moss’ Cecilia is relatable, genuine, and demonstrates equal parts vulnerability and strength.

Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man is a testament to the ability for a writer-director to take inspiration from a classic movie and reimagine it for a new generation while keeping the soul or the original alive. I don’t take issue with remakes of classic movies, but I do take issue with remakes that have no respect for the original source material. This film feels both fresh and familiar as it takes what the original did well, and use those elements in a modern way. The bones of the original and this remake are largely the same, but the muscles are developed differently in order to deliver a new story. While we haven’t been officially told that Universal’s Dark Universe is back on, the critical and box office success of this film may just reignite those embers that were snuffed out by the awful Mummy from the other year.

Ryan teaches screenwriting at the University of Tampa. If you like this article, check out the others and FOLLOW this blog! Interested in Ryan making a guest appearance on your podcast or contributing to your website? Send him a DM on Twitter or email him at RLTerry1@gmail.com! You can catch Ryan most weeks at Studio Movie Grill Tampa, so if you’re in the area, feel free to catch a movie with him!

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Insidious 3 (movie review)

Insidious3Ridiculous: Chapter 3. The final chapter in the Insidious trilogy takes us all the way back to the beginning. Only, you will find that the beginning is far less terrifying and interesting than the previous films in this story. The one saving grace the film has is the pretty interesting backstory to Elise (Lin Shaye) and her small team of paranormal hunters. We also get a couple references to the Josh Lambert case from the previous movies, and we learn a little more about the bride dressed in black that brought Elise to the Lamberts in the first place. Compared to the the original and, to a lesser extent, the sequel, the third movie is much less developed diegetically (narratively) and contains poor dialog. I have a feeling most of the fans of the series will be disappointed by this installment. It is very apparent that James Wan did not have much to do with the final chapter in the series he created. For what it’s worth, the movie does have its moments of terror and cliche jump scares. As with many horror films, it’s still a fun one to watch with friends or on a date…most likely you’ll be able to put your arm around your movie date. So, there’s the silver lining.

Insidious Chapter 3 is the final movie in the Insidious trilogy. Follow Elise (Shaye) all the way back the beginning to a case involving a young lady named Quinn (Stafanie Scott) who recently lost her mother. Upon trying to contact her mother, Quinn feels she may have awaken something far more insidious (yeah, I went there, haha). Arriving without notice on the doorstep of Elise’s house, Quinn seeks her assistant in contacting her mother. Unlike the Elise from the previous movies, this one is scared to step back into the supernatural world and tells Quinn she cannot help her to the extent Quinn wants. Following continued terrifying events and malevolent appearances of evil entities, Quinn’s father (Dermont Mulroney) reluctantly contacts web-famous paranormal hunters (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson). Realizing that the entity that haunts Quinn is way beyond their expertise, all seems lost. But, Elise confidently arrives to save the day. Now, Elise must go into the further to conquer the evil that so desperately wants to claim the life of Quinn; but not only will she face the demon that wants Quinn, Elise must also confront her fears as well.

While my hopes for this film weren’t terribly high, I was definitely hoping for something better than what I saw. Although the sequel to Insidious was strong for a horror sequel, neither the second nor–definitely–the third are on par with the original. I know, I know, that is not uncommon in the horror genre, but there was such an opportunity to truly develop the events leading up to the Lambert case from parts 1 and 2. Now, we do get some character and subplot development in regards to the character of Elise, but that’s about it. The paranormal case of Quinn is not nearly as terrifying as the Lambert case and is not nearly as well executed. Often writing suffers in cliche horror films–such as this one–but the writing for most of the dialog was so incredibly poor that is was nearly laughable. Once the movie was over, it was as if everyone in the audience asked themselves “is that it?” And–spoiler alert–we get an almost comedic glimpse of the “Darth Maul” demon from the first movie.

Some of the few positive notes regarding the movie is the fact we do get to learn more about Elise’s character and her ragtag team of paranormal hunters. So, that was pretty cool and somewhat interesting. Although not directly explained, there is evidence to suggest why the bride dressed in black hates Elise so much, and kills her in the first movie. Unlike the first two movies, there is very little emotional investment or attachment to any of the characters with the exception of Elsie. Even in the first movie, her character is often considered the favorite in the films. That is most likely do to her good looks–for an older actress, confidence, compassion, and courage. And, in this movie, she has a great single line that prompts everyone to clap and cheer. You’ll just have to watch it to find out. Despite the terrifying nature of the movie, there are come minor comedic relief parts–ones that were intentional.

For me, the best part of watching this movie was the sneak peek into Jurassic World during the previews. So, if you are a fan of the Jurassic Park series, you may want to see Insidious 3 just for the exclusive look into next week’s box office smash hit! For fans of horror movies, you will probably enjoy this film even though it simply did not live up to the low bar of expectations.

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