The Invisible Man (2020)


Don’t look now…

(2020) Thriller (Universal) Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Michael Dorman, Benedict Hardie, Renee Lim, Brian Meegan, Nick Kici, Vivienne Greer, Nicholas Hope, Cleave Williams, Cardwell Lynch, Sam Smith, Zara Michales, Serag Mohammed, Nash Edgerton, Anthony Brandon Wong, Xavier Fernandez, Amali Golden. Directed by Leigh Whannell

 

One of the unexpected side effects of #MeToo is that women are beginning to take back horror. Until recently, they were cast mostly as victims waiting to be slaughtered by a monster or a human monster. Yes, the final girl thing was a bit of a sop, but it was clearly understood that putting women in jeopardy had a sexual element to it. Horror films were often an allegory for how women were perceived in our culture; virtuous and plucky (final girls were almost never sexual) or sexy and not too bright, or at least prone to panicking when the chips were down, playing right into the killer’s hands – often literally.

That’s changing, as yesterday’s horror review illustrated, and it’s even more true of this film, inspired VERY loosely by the 1897 novel of H.G. Wells. Cecilia Kass (Moss) is trapped in an abusive relationship by a controlling billionaire who keeps her under 24/7 surveillance. Pushed to her absolute limit, she plots her escape, aided by her sister Emily (Dyer) who picks her up when she flees from the high-tech home she shares with her domestic partner Adrian Griffin (Jackson-Cohen), just barely getting away. Emily drives her into San Francisco where she bunks with her good friend James (Hodge), who happens to be a cop, and his teenage daughter Sydney (Reid).

Then word reaches her that her ex has committed suicide, and his creepy brother Tom (Dorman) gives her the news that he left her a sizable inheritance, enough to help Sydney with her college plans and to give her some financial relief. Too good to be true, right?

Right. Soon strange things begin to happen, merely annoying at first and growing exponentially more disturbing. Cecilia gets the feeling she’s being watched, and her paranoia only increases. Soon she seems to be coming unhinged, unglued, or at the very least, having a complete breakdown. But WE know that there is something else going on. After all, we saw that knife floating around by itself. We saw the footprints in the carpet. Is it Adrian’s ghost, or something more tangible – and ultimately more terrifying?

As horror films go, this one is long on tension but short on scares. In fact, I think it would be justifiably be considered more of a thriller than an out-and-out horror film, although there are definitely some horrific elements – they are just few and far between.

Whannell seems more intent on making a point than creating a legitimately scary movie. Fortunately, he has one of the best in the world at playing emotionally fragile characters in Elisabeth Moss (who will always be Zoey Bartlet to me) and she gets to exercise that particular skill to near-perfection here. She is certain that something sinister is going on and tells her circle of friends so, but nobody believes her. It’s no accident that her last name is Kass…could be short for “Cassandra.”

She gets some good support from Hodge (who will always be Alec Hardison to me) as the kindly but skeptical cop and Reid (who will always be Meg Murry to me) as the savvy teen. Dorman (who will always be John Tavner to me) lends sufficient creepiness as the late tech billionaire’s brother.

Part of the problem is that we don’t get much of a sense of who Adrian is. He’s essentially brilliant, vindictive and cruel, but we never really get to know much more than that. I tend to like a little more depth to my villains, even if they are ostensibly dead for most of the movie. Plus, there are few scares and that is a bit of a letdown, considering Whannell’s pedigree (he has been involved with two major horror franchises) and the fact that this is using the title of a classic horror movie. The audience can’t help but expect a horror movie when they sit down to watch.

Jilted expectations aside, the movie does a fair job of making its points about how women are portrayed, and although at times Moss can get a bit shrill she still makes a decent enough heroine, particularly in the mega-satisfying denouement. However, I can’t honestly say that the movie made a connection with me and thus I can’t in good conscience give it anything more than a very slight recommendation which is being damned by faint praise indeed.

REASONS TO SEE: Nobody is better than Moss than getting women on the edge of hysteria.
REASONS TO AVOID: The villain was not really developed properly.
FAMILY VALUES: There is some pretty intense violence and profanity.
TRIVIAL PURSUITS: This was originally intended to be part of the Dark Universe, Universal’s classic monster-oriented shared cinematic universe, but after the box office failure of The Mummy, the concept collapsed and Universal opted to go with individual stories rather than having a shared background.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AMC On Demand, AppleTV, Cinemax Go, DirecTV, Google Play, HBO Max, Microsoft, Redbox, Spectrum, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 10/28/21: Rotten Tomatoes: 92% positive reviews; Metacritic: 72/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Hollow Man
FINAL RATING: 5.5/10
NEXT:
The Continuing Adventures of Six Days of Darkness!

New Releases for the Week of October 29, 2021


THE FRENCH DISPATCH

(Searchlight) Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright, Bill Murray. Directed by Wes Anderson

The latest from the director of The Grand Budapest Hotel is described as a love letter to journalists, who are in this case stationed in a fictional town in France for an American newspaper during the 20th century. There, the stories published in the newspaper under the title “The French Dispatch” are brought to life.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Comedy
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, Cinemark Orlando, Enzian, Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for graphic nudity, some sexual references and language)

13 Minutes

(Quiver) Thora Birch, Amy Smart, Anne Heche, Peter Facinelli. On an ordinary spring day in a small town in America’s heartland, residents are given just 13 minutes warning to find shelter when the largest tornado on record hits the town head-on. Four families will experience the terror of trying to find loved ones in the chaos and fighting for their lives in the wake of complete and utter devastation.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Action
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs
Rating: PG-13 (for peril, bloody images, thematic elements and some strong language)

A Mouthful of Air

(Stage 6) Amanda Seyfried, Finn Wittrock, Britt Robertson, Paul Giamatti. A woman who writes children’s books about unlocking your fears has managed to get through life without facing her own. That all will change when her daughter is born and the trauma of her past is brought into focus.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, Amstar Lake Mary, CMX Merritt Square, Regal Oviedo Marketplace, Regal Pointe Orlando, Regal Waterford Lakes, Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for some language)

Antlers

(Searchlight) Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Graham Greene. In a small Oregon town, a middle school teacher and her sheriff brother become embroiled with one of her students who has a dark connection to a terrifying ancient creature.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for violence including gruesome images, and for language)

Daisy’s Dream

(Vertical) Starring the voices of Angourie Rice, Sam Neill, Sharnee Tones, Grant Denyer. An abundantly adorable quokka dreams of being named the World’s Scariest Animal. With not much hope of that happening on its own, she enlists the help of a former champion, a grouchy saltwater crocodile.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grille Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

Heart of Champions

(Vertical) Michael Shannon, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Alex MacNicoll. A college rowing team descends into petty infighting and bickering after finishing last in the national championship tournament. A new coach, an Army veteran, uses his experience to get the young men to move past their rivalries and work together as a unit.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Sports Drama
Now Playing: Premiere Fashion Square
Rating: PG-13 (for some violence, suggestive material, partial nudity, and brief strong language)

Last Night in Soho

(Focus) Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin McKenzie, Matt Smith, Terence Stamp. A mousy aspiring fashion designer discovers she has the ability to project herself into the 1960s where she encounters a glamorous singer. But there is something far darker going on, and by the time she discovers what it is, it may already be too late to save herself.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for bloody violence, sexual content, language, brief drug content and brief graphic nudity)

My Hero Academia: World Heroes Mission

(FUNimation) Starring the voices of Tetsu Inada, Yûki Kaji, Kenta Miyake, Daiki Yamashita. Japan’s greatest superheroes track down the perpetrator of a dastardly chemical attack.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Animé
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: PG-13 (for violent material, bloody images and some language)

Romantic

(Puri) Ramya Krishnan, Akash Puri, Ketika Sharma, Satya Aditya Bonepalli. Two young people fall deeply in love and begin to explore their sensual sides.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Romance
Now Playing: Cinemark Orlando
Rating: NR

Varudu Kaavalenu

(Sithara) Ritu Varma, Murli Sharma, Naga Shaurya, Viashnavi Chaitanya. Plot details not released.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Now Playing: Amstar Lake Mary, Cinemark Orlando
Rating: NR

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

Army of Thieves
Horror Noire
(Thursday)
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
Snakehead
Son of Monarchs
(Tuesday)
The Spine of Night

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Antlers
Army of Thieves
The French Dispatch
Last Night in Soho
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
Son of Monarchs