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The Invisible Man

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A finely-crafted horror-thriller all too real in an era of rampant abuse.

The Invisible Man

Grade: A-

Director: Leigh Whannell (Upgrade)

Screenplay: Whannell from H.G. Wells novel

Cast: Elizabeth Moss (Handmaid’s Tale), Harriet Dyer (The Way We Weren’t)

Rating: R

Runtime: 2h 4m

By: John DeSando

"He said that wherever I went, he would find me, walk right up to me, and I wouldn't be able to see him."

As I sit here thinking about the coronavirus and The Invisible Man at the same time, I realize they both speak the same theme: Forces are out there sometimes almost incomprehensibly lurking in our lives and our imaginations. The Invisible Man is a superior horror-fantasy-thriller that asks you to think about the dangers of living in a film without multiple jump scares and ghoulish bad guys.

The imagination does the heavy lifting here with more mind-blowing scares than James Whale’s 1933 sci-fi horror treat, where Claude Rains is wrapped in bandages and discarded in the end as a psychological nightmare. The fantasy here seems too real.

Bay Area architect Cecilia Kass (Elizabeth Moss) believes her husband’s suicide (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is a hoax. This tech- mogul scientist, she claims, is stalking her despite the suicide evidence. Beyond H.G. Wells’s intriguing conceit 120 years ago and this remake in Leigh Whannell’s horror-thriller adaptation is the delightful demand the heady horror makes on each person in the audience, who probably has had a relative or two haunting the backroads of memory.

Real or not, it doesn’t matter because the terror is real enough, and while some of the tropes such as no one believing her story or a jump scare or two, the story relies on the reality of stalking. Like the virus, it can be invisible and therefore more vicious.

Cecilia has the usual doubting sister and a cop friend, who has a daughter ripe for being beaten up by the phantom. However, the truly terrible part of the film is the haunting that seems impossible to stop, the abuse Cecilia suffers and no one can see (sound familiar Harvey Weinstein chroniclers).  In order to stop it, Cecelia must use her own intelligence and luck just to survive.

Pay attention to how these gifted filmmakers draw us in, even though the premise is preposterous. I suspect the real horror is the thoughts we have about our own invisible antagonists and our toxic but unseen abuse no one believes.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, is host of WCBE's programs It's Movie Time and Cinema Classics, and the podcasts Back Talk and Double Take. Contact him at johndesando52@gmail.com.