The remake of the horror classic “The Invisible” starring Elizabeth Moss becomes feminist empowerment. Now it’s out on DVD.
In the world of cinema, superheroes have been successful in series for several years. The “Marvel Cinematic Universe” with its films from “Avengers” to “Iron Man” to “Black Widow”, which has not yet started, is one of the largest blockbuster factories of this type. But it is not the only universe out there. Universal Studios, for example, are planning a new edition of their horror classics with the “Dark Universe” series. At the beginning of 2017 there was “The Mummy” with Tom Cruise, but without the desired success. After that, it was quiet about the project.
After a three-year hiatus, things continue to change somewhat. “The Invisible Man” continues the series, directed by Leigh Whannell, who also wrote the script. With Elizabeth Moss as the leading actress; the whole thing less bombastic, less aggressively conceived as a blockbuster and with a very free variation of the original template. It came from the Englishman James Whale, who was also responsible for “Frankenstein” (1931). With “The Invisible Man” from 1933 Whale had brought up impressive special effects in which you could watch the bandaged “invisible man” Adrian Griffin, played by Claude Rains, as he gradually drops his covers and finally completely hidden from view is.
Whales “Invisible”, for its part a free adaptation of a story by HG Wells, had some shock values to offer, where the horror came about mainly through the visual exposure of emptiness. Where one would have expected to see a body is simply – nothing. The clownesk sonorous voice of Claude Rains alone or flying objects, as well as of self-opening windows and doors, announce the presence of the invisible Adrian Griffin – which inspired Whale to some sinister comic scenes.
With the Australian Leigh Whannell there is not much left of the comedy of the original. The staging of the title character also follows different guidelines. Objects such as knives and doors seem to move autonomously again, but this invisible almost never speaks. You can’t see him disappearing when his textiles are dropped. Unlike Wells and Whale, this Adrian Griffin has not carried out any chemical experiments on himself, rather he is a successful entrepreneur who develops optical technology. One of his inventions is an aid that prevents him from being seen by others as long as he is using it.
This Adrian Griffin, played by the English actor Oliver Jackson-Cohen, is the former boyfriend of Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss). At the beginning of the film, she escapes from his sterile-modernist villa equipped with various surveillance cameras. What does not stay hidden from Griffin for long. Cecilia manages at the last moment to let her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) take her to safety in a car to see Emily’s ex-boyfriend, the policeman James (Aldis Hodge).
A little later, Cecilia received the news that Griffin had killed himself. Still, Cecilia starts to feel watched when she thinks she’s alone in James’ house. Whannell emphasizes that there have long been omnipresent forms of invisible exercise of power, which strictly speaking do not require a camouflage cap for your own body, through the targeted use of everyday technologies. Cecilia’s sister receives an insulting email from her, which Cecilia did not write at all. Cecilia’s smartphone also becomes the subject of terror.
In her relationship, Griffin had constantly controlled Cecilia, manipulated her by all means, and almost driven her insane as to how the story unfolds and what Elizabeth Moss embodies brilliantly. But Cecilia realizes very quickly that Griffin will not stop his power games even after the violent separation. Just that you don’t believe anyone that he’s still alive. When more and more mysterious murders occur, Cecilia is initially suspected.
Whannell’s most beautiful idea is that you can only see the invisible in those moments when his camouflage is broken or he is “marked” with substances. A dumped bucket of wall paint, for example, reveals the contours of a head in parts, which is one of the strongest effects of the film. And in a spectacularly dynamically filmed scene you can see Cecilia being dragged all over the floor, torn up, thrown against the wall and even “flies” over a table. Whannell even recalls the aesthetics of James Whale’s role model in a scene in which Cecilia is sitting in a hospital and staring at a couch in front of her. Her gaze falls on a patient bandaged over the entire head.
The feminist turn comes when Cecilia discovers the secret of Griffin’s invisibility and uses it for her own purposes. Morally speaking, this authorization amounts to revenge according to the ancient Talion principle (an eye for an eye). At the end of the day, it is pretty well done.