Criticism of “The Invisible Man”, a twist on the classic with Elisabeth Moss

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Because the first idea, which was intended to make a blockbuster with a leading star (that’s how it was The Mummy with Tom Cruise) was a resounding critical and box office flop. That is why the executives of the studio decided to continue with the famous saga but in a traditional version in terms of the genre it implies: low budget and film resources on the front page.

This is how this new version of The invisible man (The invisible man, 2020), which in the happy years starred Claude Rains, under the direction of James Whale who had just directed the iconic Frankenstein with Boris Karloff. The production of this new version was entrusted to Blumhouse, the production company responsible for the latest great successes of contemporary horror cinema that knew how to make low budget a style mark.

The formula could not fail and also the film has two great decisions that strengthened it: the leading role of Elisabeth Moss, the long-suffering protagonist of the series The Handmaid’s Tale, which makes her suffering believable under the harassment of her ex, and the gender problem, as necessary as it is recurrent in current productions. The protagonist is the woman who suffers from the harassment of the invisible man and not the damsel who cries out for her villainous boyfriend as in the original version.

With these seasonings, the film moves and achieves good and dark moments, always based on the good management of sound and the suggestion made by an imminent terror, thanks to the intangible characteristics of the stalker. Shadows and offscreen are the order of the day to exploit a resource launched in classic cinema, first by Whale and then by producer Val Lewton.

Perhaps there is some abuse of situations that can be compared to Paranormal activity (Paranormal Activity, 2007), confusing the invisible man with any ghost in the history of horror movies. But how does it happen to how many new versions they have wanted to make of Frankenstein (1932), the film always collides with the genius of the predecessor. Of all the directors of the monster saga of the 1930s, the one who understood, promoted and turned his works into classics was James Whale, impossible to match.

Now if one can get rid of that emblematic memory and see the film by Leigh Whannell (co-creator of the series The game of feardirector of The Night of the Demon: Chapter 3) as a readaptation more concerned with taking on topics that are in vogue in contemporary society, the film fulfills its mission. It may not become a classic or remain in the collective memory, but it achieves its goal of “visibly” traversing that ocean of horror products that circulates on the billboard.

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