The Invisible Man

Entertainment
This is a slasher flick take on the H.G. Wells story.

Who is she pointing that knife at?

Do not trust movie critics! Well, present company excluded. Currently, the bozos on Rotten Tomatoes have this movie at 91%, and it’s probably going to end up on my worst of the year list.

It’s a shame that the movie is so bad, because…invisibility is a fun element to mix into bad guys. One of the reasons Predator was fun was that the creature could become invisible. 

And if you want to play “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” there’s just one degree with invisibility. He played a bad guy who injected a formula into his body that made him invisible in Hollow Man 20 years ago. That movie got horrible reviews, and it was actually a bit of fun. There’s one effect where he starts to turn invisible, and you can see his skeleton and veins. It was amazing.

There was a funny segment on invisibility starring Ed Beagley, Jr. in the 1987 parody film Amazon Women on the Moon. His segment was called “Son of the Invisible Man” and it had me in stitches (with Beagley running around without a stitch of clothing, thinking he was invisible).

The fact that Blumhouse let me down with Fantasy Island last week, didn’t give me much hope for them making this type of story a bloody slasher flick. Yet they set up the characters nicely, so my wife and I raised our expectations. The problems start as the implausibilities and questions begin to add up. Now, I’m not talking about the science behind how you’d make a suit that would make you invisible. I’m talking about [no spoiler alert needed, as everyone knows the premise of this] — a man that is rich and brilliant, but abuses his girlfriend. So when she goes all Julia Roberts and escapes in the middle of the night — he decides he’ll fake his death, stop running his businesses, and just spend all his days following her around to flick on lights, turn up the stove, and say “surprise” into her ear. That’s an awful lot of work. I mean, why fake your death? Just wear the invisibility suit, and when she files a restraining order or whatever, show up and mess with her. He could laugh as she tries to explain that he broke the restraining order, but she can’t actually prove he was there, as she didn’t really see him.

Halfway through the movie, my wife mentioned a direction this movie should have gone that was brilliant. Up until that point, the direction I thought it would simply show us this evil person doing evil things while invisible. Instead, we watch his ex the entire time; and she’s not all that interesting, just frightened. In Hollow Man, the way they show Bacon kill a judge that’s watering his garden, or start to rape a woman — were rather scary and powerful scenes.

It’s made worse by the fact that Cecilia Kass is played by Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), who always has a look on her face like she smells something bad (which reminds me, avoid her movie “Her Smell” that came out last year, despite critics also being wrong in their love of that horrid flick). 

Cecilia decides to stay at the home of her sister Emily’s (Harriet Dyer) boyfriend James’ (Aldis Hodge, who was so good in Brian Banks) house. That might sound weird, but…Cecilia is afraid she’d be discovered with her sis, and James is a cop. A cop with some big guns he’s carryin’ around, too. But I digress.

The abusive boyfriend Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) somehow fakes his suicide. Not sure how you can do that if…the police and authorities don’t have a body, and just allow your evil lawyer brother (New Zealand actor Michael Dorman) to start running your affairs. But I’m guessing the screenwriters don’t expect you to analyze these things. They don’t want you to wonder why when he puts on the invisibility suit, he acquires super-human strength (he lifts Cecilia with one hand, while his other hand holds her arm with a knife in it).

The film only had two things I liked about it. James’ daughter Sydney (Storm Reid of that horrible Wrinkle in Time). I liked her interactions with the adults. And, there’s a scene when the invisible man shows up at a restaurant and a knife starts hovering in front of Cecilia. It was well conceived, and makes you wonder why they didn’t have more interesting stuff like that. For example, late in the movie you hear a weathercaster on the news say that there’s going to be a big storm. I immediately thought we would see the invisible dude walking, with rain pouring around the outline of his body. Nope. That scene never happened, even though they were fighting in said rain.

There’s something about having a protagonist that is haunted, and on meds, that keeps things interesting. You know doctors (or friends and family) won’t believe the things she says. Especially when she’s talking about footprints she saw on a blanket on the floor. You realize how crazy that sounds, and it can be fun. So, why wasn’t this movie more fun?

Writer/director Leigh Whannell (Saw, Insidious: Chapter 3 and Upgrade), deserves most of the blame for this. Each time the direction of the film looked like it might work, it failed.  For example when Cecelia is locked up in a mental institution, the film turns into a scene out of Terminator 2. Writer/director Steven Soderbergh was able to pull off those scenes well in Unsane a few years ago, and that movie was shot entirely on cell phones.

Ex Machina is another example of a movie doing it right. When we get to Oscar Isaac’s lab and see the different bodies, brains, and things he’s working on — you’re mesmerized. In this, when we see Adrian’s lab — there’s just a few hangars for the invisible suits. Not all that interesting to view — they’re invisible!

The movie has a few jump scares, which are cheap. And at two hours, too many scenes drag on and aren’t original or fresh.

There’s a scene when Cecilia asks why this good looking guy, who has everything, would be so obsessed with her (when we do see him, we wonder the same thing). He also doesn’t have the look that makes me think he’s a brilliant mind. It’s sort of like when Denise Richards played a nuclear physicist in a Bond film. But…had it been an Elizabeth Taylor, Elizabeth Banks, or even Elizabeth Berkley or Elizabeth Hurley, instead of Elizabeth Moss — it would possibly make his obsession a bit more believable.

This Invisible Man…I wish I had never seen it (see what I did there?)

0 stars. 

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