TWO AND A HALF STARS An abusive inventor returns from the grave to continue abusing his ex-girlfriend.
Starring Elizabeth Moss and Aldis Hodge
SCI-FI DRAMA HORROR #THEINVISIBLEMAN
Universal Studios have been desperate to create their own version of the Marvel universe, dubbed the Dark Universe, one populated with characters from their archives: Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and so on. It seemed to come to a grinding halt after Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe’s frightful instalment of THE MUMMY a few years ago. But no, they’re at it again with Australia’s Leigh Whannell (he of THE SAW franchise) helming a rather spirited adaptation of H.G. Well’s iconic novel.
This time the invisible one fades into the background as he hands over antagonist duties to Cecilia, the erstwhile woman-in-peril played by Hollywood’s go-to woman-in peril Elizabeth Moss). She’s recently escaped an abusive relationship with Adrian, an optic specialist cum inventor cum control freak and is hiding out at her sister’s boyfriend’s home. That’s until they read the news of Adrian’s suicide; bad luck for him, great for her as she lets go of her fear and returns to the world. That’s until things start to go bump in the night, and then the day, convincing Cecilia that her ex might not be as dead as people think. Naturally, people think she’s nuts.
The rest of this increasingly routine sci-fi thriller plays as you’d expect as Adrian sets about torturing Cecilia, her friends and family from beyond the grave. There are jumps, jolts and blood by the bucket load. What it doesn’t have, despite flipping the story’s gender focus, is much to say about either female empowerment or victimhood, or, well anything really. Gaping potholes don’t help, but Cecilia remains a male plaything whose solution is to try beating Adrian at his own game. Disappointingly an opportunity to move the genre forward is lost.
Whannell certainly generates his fair share of effective, ear-splitting gotcha moments and if blood-soaked scenes of gun fire and throat-slitting are your thing, you’ll be suitably entertained. But does THE INVISIBLE MAN mark a reboot of the Dark Universe execs are so hopeful for? Frankly, I can’t see it.