The Invisible Man (2020): A Classic Premise With a Well-Executed, Hyper-Modern Twist (Review)


Credit to Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions and Koby Haldorson

Koby Haldorson, Entertainment Editor, Staff Writer

This review will contain significant story spoilers for The Invisible Man.

For several years now, Universal Pictures has been attempting to kickstart their very own “cinematic universe”. Seeing the wild success of Marvel’s cinematic universe, they figured they could do the same thing (albeit on a lesser scale), utilizing the extensive library of famous, classic horror movie monsters. 


This includes Dracula, The Creature From The Black Lagoon, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mummy, werewolves and of course, The Invisible Man himself. Unfortunately for Universal, the idea of a “Dark Cinematic Universe” as they called it collapsed in on itself when The Mummy was a critical and financial flop. 


In the aftermath of The Mummy, however, Universal unfortunately pulled the plug on producing other films set in the same universe as The Mummy—this meant the Dracula film, the Creature From The Black Lagoon film, and more were scrapped. Among the scrapped projects was the original idea for a new The Invisible Man film, one that supposedly would’ve had Johnny Depp in the titular leading role. 


On the back of a collapsing cinematic universe, Blumhouse Productions (producers of Get Out, The Purge franchise and more) stepped in to help save The Invisible Man. While the final film we got doesn’t sound quite as intriguing as invisible Johnny Depp in a trench coat and bandages, it’s still a surprisingly excellent film. 


The central focus of The Invisible Man isn’t necessarily on the title character, but rather Cecilia, a woman who escapes her physically and psychologically abusive boyfriend, Adrian Griffin—who also happens to be a brilliant billionaire optics engineer. 


After she escapes his mansion, and goes to stay with her friend James and his daughter Sydney, she thankful that she’s escaped his torment, but also constantly terrified he’ll find her. Until, Adrian’s brother Tom reveals that Adrian is apparently dead by suicide. 


I knew a bit about the film going in—chiefly, how The Invisible Man becomes invisible. While it’s meant to be something of a surprise reveal to the audience (although the title gives it away), the viewer knows that the Invisible Man (Adrian) isn’t dead, but instead is wearing a high-tech suit that allows him to become invisible. I really love this idea. I think the suit design itself is really unique and interesting. 


Be aware going into the film that a lot of it is slow-burn. The first act is of course the weakest, but only because it has to set up and introduce numerous story elements. But as Cecilia starts to notice that strange things are happening, around the start of the second act, is when things begin to pick up. Act two is the perfect blend of the slow-burn, unsettling moments, and tense, one-sided attacks on Cecilia as Adrian begins to torment her once again. 


So much of the movie is suspenseful and tense. There’s an almost constant uneasy feeling or feeling of paranoia, and a large part of that is due to the cinematography. Some of the most eerie shots were when the camera would pan to an empty space, where it was insinuated The Invisible Man would be standing. 


As for the characters, outside of Cecilia and Adrian, the film operates with a relatively contained cast. There’s Cecilia’s sister Emily, James, Cecilia’s friend who also happens to be a cop, his daughter Sydney and Adrian’s brother Tom. 


I like all the characters and their interactions. Cecilia is a great main character. She starts off tormented by Adrian but after she escapes him and then eventually when she starts to fight back against The Invisible Man, it’s a strong character evolution. Cecilia loses almost everything in the film because of Adrian’s torment as The Invisible Man, but she powers through and aggressively fights back against him. 


I also enjoyed that the characters don’t immediately think she’s crazy or believe her outright. They want to believe her because she’s their close friend or sister, but she might be suffering from PTSD from her time with Adrian and his abuse. 


Each of the actors play their parts really well—Cecilia, James and Sydney are the best of the bunch; they all feel like they’ve known each other for a long time and are good friends. 


Emily and Cecilia don’t really interact with each other much, despite being sisters, and when The Invisible Man sends Emily an email acting as Cecilia describing how much she hates her, and Emily no longer wants to interact with Cecilia, there isn’t a lot of weight carried with that situation, because it wasn’t shown that they care for each other. 


Later in the film, despite it being obviously shocking, when Emily is killed by The Invisible Man, it doesn’t feel like there’s really any weight to the death because of the lack of time we spent with the character. There also isn’t much focus on it at the end of the film either. 


As for Adrian, he was a pretty strong villain. Despite only physically appearing as Adrian Griffin at the start and end of the film, it always felt like he was in every shot, and because of his constant torment of Cecilia. 


Adrian’s brother Tom was also a good sub-antagonist. He didn’t feel overly evil or criminal, more just an arrogant, rude person that didn’t care much for Cecilia’s trauma, despite supposedly hating his brother. 


As for the end of the movie, the last twenty minutes hits the viewer with several twists. I thought the reveals themselves were mostly good, but it was just one after another and little time was spent on each one, even after The Invisible Man is killed, it feels like the plot twists were almost pointless. 


One point in particular I enjoyed was how the ending wasn’t clear whether Adrian or Tom was the one tormenting Cecilia and company for the movie, or if it was both of the brothers. 


I like the sort of techno-horror feel the movie has; it takes a very classic premise (the invisible man, normally someone made invisible through means other than technology) and puts a very hyper-modern, almost Ex Machina twist on it (making the invisibility element purely a suit that reflects light and has cameras over every square inch of it). 


I also appreciated that the film doesn’t rely on killing characters or murder in general as a way of making The Invisible Man scary—purely knocking out nearly 10 guards in the hospital hallway was enough of a show of force to make The Invisible Man an actual threat. I think the single kill of Emily was a good use of a kill, but because of the lack of development her character had, there wasn’t really any weight behind the moment. 


But for the final twist, after it’s revealed Adrian is still alive, and his brother was supposedly The Invisible Man the entire time, him and Cecilia have one last dinner together. She goes to the bathroom at one point and during her absence, Adrian’s throat is slashed at the dining table. Sometime in the second act, after Cecilia finds the second invisibility suit, she hides it away in Adrian’s closet. 


At the dinner, she intended to murder Adrian, as she knew all along that he was the single tormentor, and he’d framed his brother and set the entire thing up. When he refuses to admit if any of it is true, he’s shortly murdered by Cecilia. There’s a few issues I had with this ending. 


Firstly, it felt like it all happened way too fast, and was a bit confusing. Cecilia leaves and nearly a minute later, Adrian is bleeding out on the floor, only for Cecilia to walk out of the bathroom still in her dress and heels. 


It‘s certainly just shoddy editing for the scene that makes it look like she’s become the world’s greatest quick-change act, but at first I thought that someone else was using the second suit and had killed Adrian. Unfortunately, Cecilia leaves with the suit in her bag, clearly expressing that she killed Adrian. 


The last twenty minutes of the film really felt like a rushed series of twists. Most of the twists were actually good, but unfortunately the quickened pacing of the final minutes of the film hindered its chance to explore or really expand on any of them. 


Overall, I liked the movie. While it does have a number of flaws, I think there are quite a few strong moments that make the film worth watching. If you’re looking for a good, suspense/thriller movie and don’t mind a bit of action, then The Invisible Man is for you. 


Final Score: 8/10 

The Invisible Man is rated R and is currently available to purchase digitally.