Elisabeth Moss stars in writer-director Leigh Whannell’s update of The Invisible Man.
The Production: 4/5
There have been several adaptations of H.G. Wells’ science fiction/horror novel, The Invisible Man, from the 1933 classic directed by James Whale and starring Claude Rains (which spawned its own “franchise” – before that was even a movie term – of six films), to this recent adaptation by writer-director Leigh Whannell (Upgrade). As a kid, my favorites where more of the comedic sci-fi variety: the 1975 TV-series starring David McCallum and created by Harve Bennett (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) and Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues), and the 1972 Disney film Now You See Him, Now You Don’t with Kurt Russell
Leigh Whannell’s film is more horror than science fiction, as little to no time is spent exploring or even discussing the technology that makes Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) invisible other than it is a suit comprised of miniature cameras and some sort of display technology that creates a cloaking device. As the film opens, Adrian’s girlfriend, Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss), escapes from his seaside estate late at night, but is discovered while waiting for her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) to arrive at a backroad to pick her up. Cecilia manages to make her escape after a violent confrontation with Adrian, hiding out at Emily’s police detective friend James Lanier’s (Aldis Hodge) house. Despite the security of James’ home, Cecilia is a woman afraid of her own shadow, frightened to even walk outside and retrieve the mail from the end of the driveway. Emily arrives one day to give Cecilia the news that Adrian has committed suicide and that his lawyer and brother, Tom (Michael Dorman), has papers for Cecilia to sign as a trust fund was set up by Adrian with Cecilia as beneficiary. As Cecilia begins to feel some relief and begins to put her life back together, she suddenly has the feeling of being watched, quite literally stalked. Is Adrian really dead, or has he managed to create and use his ultimate invention, a suit of invisibility to harass and stalk his former girlfriend?
The Invisible Man plays on the fears of being tormented in an abusive relationship, even after the victim believes he/she is free of the abuser. The scares are more of a psychological nature than jolts of imagery and/or sound (although there are plenty of those as well). I found the story riveting and unnerving from beginning to end, but the real reason to watch the film is for Elisabeth Moss’ performance (although she may become typecast as a victim of abuse, having just played an abused woman in last summer’s The Kitchen). Moss doesn’t have to scream to show her fear – it’s communicated in both her eyes and her body language. Aldis Hodge is charming as usual as the protector and police detective who deep down wants to believe her. This is one of the best horror films I have seen in a long time.
3D Rating: NA
The Invisible Man was captured at 4.5K resolution using Arri Alexa LF an Mini LF cameras, then completed as a 4K digital intermediate with Dolby Vision high dynamic range for its premium theatrical engagements. Universal’s HEVC-encoded 2160p transfer on this disc includes Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HDR10 high dynamic range and retains the film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The disc was screened on equipment capable of HDR10 playback. By design, the film has a muted color palette, yet colors still appear natural with deeper gradations that you will find on the included Blu-ray edition. Where the disc truly shines, though, is in the additional clarity from the higher resolution with textures and facial features appearing much more prominently (you can see the uneven tile work on the backsplash in James’ kitchen, for example). Contrast also receives a major upgrade, with deep blacks that reveal fine details in the darkest of scenes (Cecilia’s journey through James’ attic is a great example).
Universal has included a Dolby Atmos track as the default audio on both the UHD and Blu-ray editions of the film, and it is a sonic treat. Sounds are placed with pinpoint precision and move fluidly within the listening area. The score by Benjamin Wallfisch (IT: Chapter Two, Blade Runner 2049) is more immersive as it is spread across all channels with LFE adding some low-end rumbling. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.
Special Features: 3/5
All of the special features are included on the UHD and Blu-ray editions.
Deleted Scenes (2160p; 13:24): Nine scenes have been included – Annie; Changing Room Montage; Blow It Up. Make It Rain. Out to Sea.; Daisies; Where’s My Phone; Butt Chug; There’s Someone Sitting In That Chair; I Can Do This; Insanity Defense.
Moss Manifested (2160p; 3:54): A look at Elisabeth Moss, her character, and her performance.
Director’s Journal with Leigh Whannell (2160p; 10:51): Whannell discusses his love of the genre, adapting the novel with an updated twist, plus behind the scenes footage.
The Players (2160p; 5:24): The cast along with producer Jason Blum and writer-director Whannell discuss the characters and the film.
Timeless Terror (2160p; 3:04): Updating the story, positioning the villain as an abuser, etc.
Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Leigh Whannell: Whannell goes into great detail on developing and making the film.
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy (in UHD where available) on Movies Anywhere. As a nice surprise, Universal has included all of the special features (with the exception of the audio commentary) on many of the digital retailers.
The Invisible Man is one of the best horror films I’ve seen in quite some time, and Universal’s presentation is exceptional.
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