The Invisible Man


Viewed – 04 July 2020 online rental

There have been many interpretations of the Invisible Man story, from old black and white incarnations to John Carpenter and Paul Verhoeven movies. There was also a proposed Universal monsters outing starring Johnny Depp that never came to be. So we come to this latest that has The Handmaid Tale’s Elizabeth Moss as Cecilia, a woman who in the opening scene escapes an abusive relationship with wealthy scientist Adrian. However after her ex’s apparent suicide, Cecilia still feels someone is taunting and messing with her. Has Adrian come back from the dead, or is something else going on?

Director Leigh Whannell (Upgrade) delivers a clever twist on the stalker thriller, borrowing the blue print of The Invisible Man concept and bringing it bang up to date. It proves for a decidedly unnerving and gripping watch, and plays about with the idea well to really crank up the tension. There are certainly echoes of Hollow Man here with the idea of the enemy being something that can’t be seen, although it’s not quite as visceral as Verhoevan’s underrated entry. It also made me think of Candyman, especially in the second half. Elizabeth Moss is great, as she often is and proves a mesmerising heroine.

Plot-wise its a bit underdeveloped as we learn very little about Adrian, what makes him tick etc. Also the ending is a bit stupid with at least one major lapse in logic. Not helped when the plot raises far more questions than it bothers to answer. That being said this was still thrilling in places with several stand out moments (the restaurant, the attic), aided by decent effects and stunt work. Not quite the full package but worth a watch.

Verdict: Good

Upgrade


Viewed – 09 April 2019. Online rental

This came as a surprise. An interesting sounding thriller that has a married couple getting mugged in the wrong neighbourhood that leaves central protagonist ‘Gray’ paralysed and his wife dead. However a billionaire inventor later approaches Gray to offer him a breakthrough microchip that will not only cure him – but also upgrade him.

Set in a not-so-distant future with self driving cars, a.i assistants and drone robots, this tight and energetic movie was like a cross between Ghost in the Shell, RoboCop and Videodrome with heavy influence of body-horror auteur David Cronenberg. Director Leigh Whannell has put together a well narratively-clever genre flick that’s at times very violent and full of action. The relationship between Gray and a disembodied voice named ‘Stem’ coming from his microchip proves the most entertaining aspect and how this new power is used to aid him in an investigation into his wife’s killers is particularly compelling. Add to this some great fight scenes and even if at times the ‘walking like a robot’ aspect looks rather silly, I still found myself invested.

It may lack any recognisable names and it’s all done it seems on a tight budget … but Whannell achieves a lot with very little and that always goes down well with me. Recommended.

Verdict: 4 /5

Insidious


Viewed – 03 May 2011  Cinema

I wasn’t expecting this.  Going completely blind into this one, and knowing nothing but the fact it was directed by Saw’s James Wan.  So what would you expect?  Clever twists?  Wall to wall gore?  Then I hope you are sitting comfortably.  A young couple with two boys and a baby girl, move into one of those clichéd big-ass American houses that seems creepy from the off set.  Of course it’s not long until things start going bump in the night and weird shit begins to go down.  I know what you’re going to say, this is just like Amityville or Poltergeist, which was certainly my impression, but as the story progresses it takes a much more weirder and disturbing path, and to say it scared the hell out of me, well…

Starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, along with an appearance by the increasingly freaky Barbara Hershey (just see Black Swan, you’ll know what I mean), this is well executed and incredibly effective, with jump-scares that don’t take the viewer for an idiot, and a nail-biting tension, helped by the eerie lighting and mostly hand-held camera work, that kept this viewer permanently nervous.  Ok, some moments of comedy seem out-of-place and towards the end the movie did sink into an extended Ghost Train ride, but by then you’re already glued, and in a crowded genre of torture porn gore flicks, sequels and remakes, this was a breath of fresh air, and shows that James Wan clearly didn’t fluke Saw and his follow-up, Death Sentence, making him one of the most assured horror-talents in the business.

Verdict:  4 /5