The 2020 film “The Invisible Man,” directed by Leigh Whannell, was originally intended to be a part of Universal Pictures’ ongoing Universal Monsters franchise, which the studio has struggled to revive. However, it may have succeeded in doing so. Leigh Whannell, who had previously brought us films like “Insidious 3” and “Upgrade,” showcased not only his directorial prowess but also his skills as a talented writer with “The Invisible Man.” However, “The Invisible Man” will remain a testament to his craftsmanship. In fact, I would like to focus more on the film’s design rather than its content, so I must note that the paragraphs beyond the second contain significant spoilers.
Let’s briefly touch on the plot. Cecilia escapes one night from her narcissistic ex-boyfriend Adrian, whom she has long wanted to get away from. However, she is convinced that he will return one day. While she waits vigilantly by the window every day, she receives unexpected news: Adrian has committed suicide. Cecilia is finally free. But her freedom will be short-lived, as an unseen threat is about to end it abruptly.
First and foremost, this film is absolutely exemplary in terms of its cinematography, screenplay usage, and acting. This film could serve as a perfect example in film schools, showcasing the precise mathematics of filmmaking, breaking down scenes into individual elements. The reason for the film’s remarkable success lies in the director’s attention to detail and the mathematical precision with which he translates what’s on paper onto the screen. Despite having a modest budget of only 7 million dollars and limited locations, the film manages to maintain tension until the very end. The primary reason for this is the camera’s movement and the absence of the “resting gap” that is often missing in horror films.
Most of the locations in the film are confined spaces, and the limited number of locations, combined with the absence of high-action sequences, could have posed a challenge for the placement of the camera. However, the director has chosen a constantly moving camera, avoiding static shots or close-ups that would take the easy way out, throughout the film. The camera remains in constant motion, maintaining the tension and pace. Those familiar with David Robert Mitchell’s “It Follows” will recognize the style of camera movement – it flows like water, never stops moving, and always keeps the audience on edge. The director demonstrates his signature style and innovation by refining the technique he used in “Upgrade.”
The film is meticulously crafted from start to finish. Every single frame in the film serves a purpose. In the world of cinema, which has a 125-year history, various screenplay formulas have been developed, and rules have been established. Some say, “If a gun is shown in a film, it must be fired.” While this is not a strict necessity, rules, when followed, can engage the informed viewer. “The Invisible Man” expertly applies this rule. Early in the film, as Cecilia escapes her home, she gazes fearfully into an empty room, although we, as viewers, can guess what’s in there. The sole purpose of showing this room was to reintroduce it later in the story. As viewers, we are provided with our first clue.
Throughout the film, many such details are presented to us, particularly those that are highlighted. Sydney’s use of pepper spray after waking up at night, Sydney extinguishing the burning food with a fire extinguisher rather than water, and even the film’s title being written in waves at the beginning serve as foreshadowing for what we will encounter later in the film. Guns are shown to us multiple times, and each one goes off when the time is right.
The film’s power lies in the synergy of camera movement, a well-crafted screenplay, and successful visuals. For the average viewer, it will be a memorable thriller film to watch. If you are well-acquainted with cinema, you will likely admire the director’s attention to detail. However, one thing may seriously disturb you. Although it does not have an official name, I would call it the “Hollywood Screenplay.” Despite Hollywood’s mastery of the formula, sometimes significant logic flaws are employed to advance the plot. In “The Invisible Man,” it is hard to believe that they did not notice these issues, so it can be assumed that they were deliberately chosen to allow certain actions to unfold.
While the film appears quite logical up to the dinner scene with Cecilia and her sister, it takes a turn towards Hollywood from that point onward. The constant emphasis on the opulence of the restaurant makes it impossible to believe that there would be no security cameras. They should have seen the flying knife. Similarly, in the asylum, with all the chaos and disturbance, the fact that no alarm is raised, the police are not called, and, strangely, no one bothers to check the security cameras and say, “Something strange happened here,” are the film’s major logic flaws. The director chooses to ignore these issues deliberately, allowing for the action to unfold. While there may not be disturbing details unless you notice them, for someone like me who values mathematics in filmmaking, these were quite unsettling.
In conclusion, “The Invisible Man,” directed by Leigh Whannell, boasts a screenplay that could be shown as an exemplary lesson in film schools. The director’s ability to enrich the film with camera usage, despite a limited budget, is commendable. He meticulously calculated every frame to deliver a tension-filled film every second. It’s worth mentioning Elisabeth Moss here as well. Yes, she is a remarkable actress. I consider myself fortunate to have followed her career since 2007. However, this film may be her career-defining role. She delivers a performance so remarkable that it could serve as her showreel, enabling her to secure roles in new films by simply showing “The Invisible Man.” While Leigh Whannell has directed the film exceptionally well, within the frame, Elisabeth Moss delivers an outstanding performance.
Cast & Crew
director: Leigh Whannell
writers: Leigh Whannell
starring: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Michael Dorman
USA – AUSTRALIA | 2020 | 124 MINUTES |