The Invisible Man is kind of an outlier amongst the stable of Universal horror monsters. Generally, the monsters are somewhat sympathetic creatures – too terrifying to be anti-heroes, but still faintly tragic, inspiring us to question the definition of humanity.
Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolf-man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon all display deeply human characteristics like longing, regret, curiosity. By the time they’re defeated at the end of their films, the audience may be surprised at how saddened the outcome makes them.
The Invisible Man? Nah, he’s just a dick.
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While Dracula is outright evil, seeking to either kill or turn everyone he meets, the Invisible Man of H.G. Wells’ classic novel, and of the 1933 Claude Rains film, only wants to sleaze his way through polite society, getting away with petty acts of violence and theft. And some murder, too.
Aussie horror creator Leigh Whannell’s upcoming adaptation of the same source material looks to be taking that human evil to another level, his titular Invisible Man being an abusive ex boyfriend in the 2020 film. Played by The Haunting of Hill House’s Oliver Jackson-Cohen, this unseen assailant will torture protagonist Elisabeth Moss from the shadows – in this first trailer, we see (or don’t see, rather) Jackson-Cohen stalking her around a number of gorgeous locations from the film’s Sydney set.
Produced by horror monopoly Blumhouse and Universal Studios, this iteration of the story has had a fairly troubled inception. Originally, Johnny Depp was set to play the Invisible Man in an entry to the thwarted Dark Universe franchise, which started and finished with 2017’s undercooked The Mummy reboot.
By the start of this year, Upgrade director and RMIT graduate Leigh Whannell was tapped to write and direct his own version of the scary story, and has seemingly opted for a more grounded version, told from the perspective of the villain’s hounded ex-girlfriend. Considering the ongoing conversation about women’s stories of abuse from within the filmmaking industry, choosing Moss as a protagonist, instead of the manipulative Invisible Man, feels like a thoughtful choice.
The Invisible Man will arrive in cinemas on February 28.