Review – Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are (“The Invisible Man”)

Remember Universal Studio’s attempt at making a Dark Universe? Their idea of a MCU, but with monsters? It began and ended with their 2017 reboot of The Mummy with Tom Cruise, and THIS movie was supposed to be the second film in their ‘Universe’. Oh well, they can’t be all Tony Stark’s, can they?


*
Elizabeth Moss hasn’t had the best luck with her men in TV or movies. First the horrible guys in The Handmaids Tale and now she’s playing Cecilia Kass, the cruelly tortured wife of brilliant scientist, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) who has invented, not an invisibility serum, but a suit. Watch out Harry Potter! After leaving her abusive husband, Cecilia hides out at her best friends home, Detective James Lanier (Aldis Hodge) and his teenage daughter, Sydney (Storm Reid). But, luckily, she learns through her estranged sister, Emily (Harriet Dyer), that Adrian went and committed suicide. Well, that was nice of him!

Free of Adrian’s violent, controlling abuse, Cecilia can now live her life in style, thanks to the cool settlement left to her in his will. Adrian’s less than happy lawyer brother, Tom (Michael Dorman), isn’t exactly thrilled with it all. However, as the days go by, Cecilia starts to experience unnerving and jarring things that leave her to suspect that Adrian is not only alive but invisible! Naturally, nobody believes her and all fingers point to her going crazy. Pretty soon, Cecilia is attacked by Adrian, but no one will believe her. . .even after terrible events start occurring that land her in jail!

Cecilia, finally fed up with all of Adrian’s BS, decides to fight back, invisible or not! Written and directed by Leigh Whannell (Saw, Saw II, the Insidious franchise),

this movie has it’s share of plot holes and human’s doing stupid things. However, it does offer up the first time a person has been rendered invisible by something other than a serum, government experiment, gamma rays, or other goofy means. Really cool!

Whannell showcases his stealth in sinister film-making, as you never know what’s coming around the corner, complete with jump-scares and effective lighting, but goes and ruins it with a misplaced annoying “scary” soundtrack, which includes that deep, loud thromming sound when something bad is about to happen. You know the one; you’ve heard it a million times in sci-fi films like Prometheus, Arrival, and Annihilation.

The title should have been The Invisible Man’s Wife as this movie really is a showcase for Moss’ talent. She gives a stunning performance of both complete helplessness and bold empowerment as the film progresses. Beside Moss, Hodge keeps it real and provides some very needed comic relief. Dyer and Dorman are there for some nice supporting roles, and Reid does a wonderful job; not at all annoying as she was back in A Wrinkle in Time.

The Invisible Man (1933)


*
The original and still the best! Universal Studios in its hey-day of making monster movies like Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Mummy, cranked out this faithful adaptation of H.G.Wells novel about a mad scientist who invented a serum that renders anyone invisible, but with terrible side effects.

Wrapped up like a mummy, a mysterious stranger (Claude Rains) checks into a quaint village pub for some shelter, food, and a room to “finish his work”. This man is Dr. Jack Griffin, a brilliant scientist who is totally invisible under his clothes and facial wrappings. Slowly going mad, due to the serum that made him this way, he only wants peace & quiet to find the antidote to make him visible again. But the nosy villagers of the pub, especially the innkeepers loopy wife (Una O’Connor) keep interrupting him. Ooooooo! Bad idea! Griffin goes nuts and shows everyone he’s invisible and the real trouble begins.

Meanwhile, Griffin’s colleagues are trying to find him. Flora Cranley (Gloria Stuart), Griffin’s fiancee and the daughter of his employer, Dr. Cranley (Henry Travers), plus Dr. Arthur Kemp (William Harrigan), a friend and research assistant. Cranley knows about the invisibility drug making the subject slowly go insane, so time is of the essence. Griffin finally turns up at Kemp’s home, and both he and Flora try to talk him down. At first it seems to be working, but later on paranoid Kemp phones the police after Griffin explains his plans to dominate the world by murdering people. Yikes! But when the police arrive, Griffin feels betrayed, goes invisible again, and vows to kill Kemp.

Now a manhunt is on with the police trying to not only capture an invisible man, but trying to keep Kemp alive as well. After Griffin tricks the cops (super easy–barely an inconvenience), he kills Kemp as promised. However, all that mayhem makes a transparent psycho tired, and as Griffin gets some shut-eye, a local farmer tells the cops about a disembodied person sleeping in his barn. End result? Griffin never makes it out alive. As his last moments on Earth slip away, we get to see what this invisible man really looked like, as the serum dies off with the man.

A match made in cinematic Heaven! Screenplay by prolific writer R.C. Sheriff, who wrote novels, stage plays, and movies (Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Four Feathers), and the great (and controversial) director James Whale (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein), plus the dynamic acting (if only that majestic voice) of Claude Rains, and throw in those 30’s SPFX (cutting edge for the time), and you had a box office winner that made this movie even MORE popular than Frankenstein!

Universal, seeing a cash-cow, quickly made a whopping FIVE sequels including an Abbott & Costello Meets the Invisible Man comedy. Some were good, others weren’t. Since then, there have been countless Invisible Man movie knock-off’s and reboots like Memoirs of an Invisible Man and Hollow Man, plus various TV shows.

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