Sep 5, 2020

"The Invisible Man": Convoluted, Gay-Vague, Me Too Fable

When Bob announced that the new Netflix DVD was The Invisible Man,  I thought "Great!  The classic 1932 Universal monster mash starring Claude Raines."  For the rest of the night, that song from Rocky Horror was going through my head:

Michael Rennie was ill the day the earth stood still
But he told us where we stand.
And Flash Gordon was there in silver underwear,
Claude Raines was the invisible man.

But no, it's a 2020 remake that I didn't know existed.

I  went into it fresh, without checking a plot synopsis or review.

Scene 1:  At 3:40 in the morning, a woman (Elizabeth Moss from The Handmaid's Tale) climbs out of bed and sneaks through a gigantic facility to a lab, where she disables all of the futuristic surveillance equipment.  Then she climbs over a wall and runs into the woods.

I've seen 1,000 movies about women with super powers escaping from facilities, so I'll bet that she's the Invisible Woman.

She runs to the road and flags down a car.  "What's going on?  What's happening?" the driver (Harriet Dyer) asks.  "Just drive!"  A man runs out of the woods, chasing her.

Scene 2:   The woman, Cecilia, is afraid to leave the house.  James (Aldis Hodge), left, who I assume is the car driver's husband, encourages her.  Why did these two strangers take her in, instead of dropping her off at a women's shelter or a hospital or something?

Scene 3:  The car driver, Emily, shows up.  She is actually Cecilia's sister, and the pick-up was pre-arranged.  Odd -- she certainly acted like she had never seen Cecilia before.  Emily announces: "He's dead."

Ok, I got the opening scene wrong.  Cecilia was escaping from her abusive husband, optics expert Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, bottom photo), who lives in an impossibly huge house disguised as a research facility.

Scene 4:  Cecilia and her sister Emily at the reading of the will.  The lawyer, Tom (Michael Dorman, below), who happens to be abusive Adrian's brother, says that she will be receiving $100,000 per month for the next five years, unless she goes to a mental hospital or commits a crime.

Cecilia spends her first installment on presents: a ladder for James (huh?  not a new car?)  and college tuition for his daughter Sydney.

 I got the relationships wrong, too.  Emily and James do not live together.  They don't act like they are dating, either.  So he's probably Cecilia's love interest.

Scene 5: Weird things start to happen.  Cecilia is hit by an invisible hand.  When she goes on a job interview, her architectural samples vanish, and she has a panic attack.  (Wait -- she's getting $1.2 million a year.  Why isn't she buying a villa in Tuscany?)  The doctor finds excessive amounts of the depressant Diazapam (Valium) in her system.  But that was what she drugged Adrian with.  Emily gets a nasty email, reputedly from Cecilia  -- Adrian must have hacked into her computer!

Cecilia tells James, who conveniently turns out to be a cop, and Tom the Lawyer that Adrian is still alive, and has somehow turned invisible to torment her.  Ridiculous, absurd, you're under stress, yada yada yada.  I think she's suffering from some sort of post-traumatic condition, and doing these things herself.  But the movie is entitled The Invisible Man

Scene 6: An invisible presence attacks James' daughter Sydney.  He thinks that Cecilia did it, and orders her out of the house.  Then he and daughter leave. Wait -- you order her out, and don't stick around to make sure she gets out?  She calls Adrian's cell phone -- it's in the attic!  Along with the missing architectural plans.

Scene 7:  Cecilia convinces her sister Emily to meet her at a Chinese restaurant, where there is a very funny scene with the waiter (Nick Kici, top photo)..  Before an invisible presence stabs Emily and puts the knife in Cecilia's hand.

Scene 8: She's screaming "I didn't do it.  It was Adrian!  He's invisible!  He's standing right there!"  at the mental hospital.  Tom the Lawyer admits that Adrian is still alive, and offers to get the charges dropped if she returns to him.  Otherwise she loses the $100,000 per month and goes on trial for murder.  Cecilia steals a pen.

Scene 9:  She pretends to attempt suicide with the pen (it's a conveniently sharp old-timey fountain pen).  When an invisible figure tries to stop her, she stabs him repeatedly, causing the suit to malfunction and become intermittently visible.  She rushes into the hallway, where the invisible figrue kills about 3000 security guards while Cecilia yells "He's right behind you!"

For a billionaire optics expert, Adrian is an excellent fighter.

Scene 10: Cecilia goes to Adrian's house, where her dog is still there.  It's been at least three weeks since he "died"; shouldn't the house be closed up, and the dog adopted or sent to a shelter?  How is it surviving?    She finds the invisibility suit, but is attacked and flees without stealing it.

Scene 11:  Back at James' house (wait -- he ordered her out).  Cecilia arrives just in time to see  an invisible figure attacking James and his daughter.  She stabs it repeatedly.  Finally it drops dead.  She takes off the mask -- it's Tom the Lawyer!  He chained Adrian up in the basement, faked his death, and stole his terrorize his sister-in-law?  Why on Earth....

Scene 10: Cecilia still thinks it was Adrian, just using Tom as a decoy at the end.  No one believes her, but at least she's exonerated for killing her sister.  Um...and 3,000 security guards.

Scene 11:  Cecilia sneaks out of the house in the middle of the night to meet with Adrian.  He offers her sushi and steak (wait -- it's the middle of the night, too late for dinner).   She's wearing a wire.  James is listening from a car outside. (Wait -- if James is in on it, why did she have to sneak out of the house?) 

She tries to get Adrian to confess, but he refuses.  It was all his brother, while he was locked in the basement for three weeks.  So she goes into the bathroom, changes into the invisibility suit (where did she get it?  Did she take it off Tom's body?), and slits his throat.

Wait -- he still hasn't confessed.  Chances are he did it, but...

Beefcake:  Lots of hunks wandering around, but no one undresses except Cecilia.

Confusing Plotlines:  Lots

Gay Characters:  No one specifies, but no one specifies that they are heterosexual, either.  James has a daughter, but no wife or girlfriend is ever mentioned.  Plus he's not the love interest for either Cecilia or Emily.

Why no wife, ex wife, dead wife, or baby mama mentioned?  Why no romance with Cecilia or Emily?  Because it would distract from Cecilia's story?  Because there wasn't time?  Because James is gay? But mentioning it would be nice.  It's 2020: no more subtexts!

Tom doesn't allude to any heterosexual partners, either.  No picture of a wife on his desk, no flirting with Cecilia or Emily.  Probably gay, too.  But if he's canonically gay, why not mention it?

This all takes place in San Francisco, where not mentioning it seems even more ridiculous.

My Grade: C

1 comment:

  1. James Whale's production of H G Welle's " The Invisible Man' (1933) is a classic sci-fi horror movie which still delivers both chills and laughs. Rains gives an amazing performance. The hand crafted special effects are still effective.


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