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Getting Even: Remake of ‘The Invisible Man’ Delivers Thrills, Seriously Thinks About Trauma

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In The Invisible Man, a clever and considerate reboot of the Universal Studios horror classic, an invisibility suit is the next step in tech—the people in control of surveillance have figured out how they can become invisible as they make the rest of us even more visible. This privacy nightmare begins with Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss), girlfriend of “optics groundbreaker” and abuser Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), as she sneaks out of Adrian’s dead tech postmodernistic house at night, shuts down the surveillance cameras and monitors her sleeping abusive boyfriend through an app on her phone, making sure he doesn’t awake and find her escaping. Invisibility has not been introduced into the movie yet but we see that Cecilia has been rendered invisible by being shut off from friends and family, and so, the sociopathic tendencies of abusive men and tech innovators already overlap.

It gets worse when Adrian returns with an invisibility suit—covered in bubble-wrap-like panels that reflect and refract the world, it makes the person wearing it “invisible” (or something like that; the tech isn’t and doesn’t need to be totally explained)—that allows him to return to harm Cecilia long after she has left him and is staying with friends. And what follows is a thriller for the everything-recorded-all-the-time nightmare we live in right now that prioritizes domestic horror over phantasmagorical horror. It also realizes that women inflicting harm on men who have inflicted harm on them is just not the same thing (even, perhaps, if the reactive violence is arguably “disproportionate,” whatever that means). This is a less cloying way for “mainstream” movies to ponder #MeToo, an encouraging trend in Hollywood movies (also see Hustlers).

The Invisible Man is either subtle—leeward sound design, unhurried takes (a masterful one involves burned breakfast and introduces Adrian’s invisible arrival)—or it is really obvious via jump scares or, say, a hyper-violent, cathartic hospital escape in which a cop is shot with his own gun wielded by invisible Adrian. That has a lot to do with The Invisible Man’s director/writer Leigh Whannell, who is best known for his involvement in the Saw and Insidious movies, but also Upgrade, a fairly slept-on 2018 sci-fi movie that recalled Robocop and Videodrome, invoked alt-right hatemongers, and dunked on contemporary tech dweebs like Elon Musk at the same time. Like Upgrade, The Invisible Man satirizes tech culture and has a whole figured-out world outside the frame. And like Saw, it’s about someone, a man of course, who has obtained too much power or has nothing to lose and tortures someone for most of the running time while we watch. 

When Cecilia fights the invisible Adrian we also get a sense of the abuse she endured without violent flashbacks, one of the many ways this remake finds ways within an ostensibly dim-bulb Hollywood structure to be at least mindful of trauma. It is, in part, a chase movie and Whannell makes every location feel maze-like, which is how someone who has felt trapped for years would see the whole world. And Elisabeth Moss brings a Gena Rowlands intensity to it all—and in quieter moments, the oblique frustration of Julianne Moore in Safe. There is really no question that she is being stalked by her invisible, shitty ex. The movie is always on her side. 

MOVIE LISTINGS

THE CHARLES THEATRE, 1711 NORTH CHARLES STREET, (410) 727-3464, THECHARLES.COM

Revival: The Devil Is A Woman (Josef Von Sternberg, US, 1935). Sat: 11:30 a.m.; Mon: 7:00; Thurs: 9:00

Emma (Autumn de Wilde, UK, US, 2020). Fri-Sat: 1:05, 4:00, 6:45, 9:35; Sun-Mon: 1:05, 4:00, 6:45; Tues-Wed: 1:05, 4:00, 6:45, 9:35; Thurs: 1:05, 4:00, 6:45, 9:30

JoJo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, US, 2019). Fri-Sat: 4:00, 9:35; Sun-Mon: 4:00; Tues-Wed: 4:00, 9:35; Thurs: 4:00, 6:45

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band (Daniel Roher, US, 2020). Fri-Sat: 9:35; Tues-Thurs: 9:35

Ordinary Love (Lisa Barros D’Sa, US, 2019). Fri-Thurs: 12:45, 3:40, 6:40

Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, South Korea, 2019). Fri-Sat: 12:50, 3:50, 6:50, 9:35; Sun: 12:50, 3:50, 6:50; Mon: 12:50, 3:50; Tues-Thurs: 12:50, 3:50, 6:50, 9:35

Portrait Of a Lady On Fire (Céline Sciamma, France, 2019). Fri-Sat: 1:00, 3:50, 6:50, 9:30; Sun-Mon: 1:00, 3:50, 6:50; Tues-Thurs: 1:00, 3:50, 6:50, 9:30

The Traitor (Marco Bellocchio, Italy, 2019). Fri-Wed: 12:55, 6:45; Thurs: 12:55

CREATIVE ALLIANCE, 3134 EASTERN AVENUE, (410) 726-1651, CREATIVEALLIANCE.ORG

She Done Him Wrong (Lowell Sherman US, 1933). Fri: 7:30 (hosted by Betty O’Hellno with burlesque afterward)

ENOCH PRATT FREE LIBRARY

The Addams Family (Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, US, 2019). Wed: 3:00, Hamilton Branch

Captain Marvel (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, US, 2019). Sat: 2:00, Southeast Anchor Library

Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow, US, 2017). Mon: 5:00, Pennsylvania Ave. Branch

Harriet (Kasi Lemmons, US, 2019). Sat: 2:00 with screenings at Central Library and Waverly Branch

Joker (Todd Phillips, US, 2019). Fri: 2:00, Herring Run Branch

Lady And The Tramp (Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske, US, 1955). Sat: 10:30 a.m., Roland Park Branch

Suffragette (Sarah Gavron, US, 2015). Mon: 4:00, Reisterstown Road Branch

THE PARKWAY THEATRE, 5 WEST NORTH AVENUE, (410) 752-8083, MDFILMFEST.COM

And Then We Danced (Levan Akin, Sweden, 2019). Fri-Sat: 1:15, 4:15, 7:00; Sun: 1:15, 4:15; Mon-Wed: 4:15; Thurs: 9:30

Fantastic Fungi (Louie Schwartzberg, US, 2019). Fri-Sat: 4:30, 9:30; Sun: 4:30; Mon: 7:15; Tues: 4:30; Wed: 7:15; Thurs: 10:00

Not In My Neighborhood (Kurt Orderson, South Africa, US, Brazil, 2018). Tues: 7:00 (free screening)

Polyester (John Waters, US, 1981). Thurs: 7:30

Premature (Rashaad Ernesto Green, US, 2019). Fri-Sat: 1:00, 7:00, 9:45; Sun: 1:00, 7:00; Mon: 4:30, 7:00; Tues: 7:00; Wed: 4:30, 7:00; Thurs: 7:00

Twice Upon A Time (John Korty and Charles Swenson, US,1983). Sun: 6:30

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes (Alison Reid, US, 2019). Fri-Sat: 12:45, 4:00, 6:45, 9:00; Sun: 12:45, 4:00, 6:45; Mon-Wed: 4:00, 6:45; Thurs: 6:45, 9:00

THE SENATOR THEATRE, 5904 YORK ROAD, (410) 323-4424, SENATORTHEATRE.COM

The Call Of The Wild (Chris Sanders, US, 2020). Fri-Sat: 12:50, 3:50, 6:45, 9:40; Sun: 10:10 a.m., 12:50, 3:50, 6:45; Mon: 3:50; Tues-Thurs: 12:50, 3:50, 6:45, 9:40

Little Women (Greta Gerwig, US, 2019). Fri-Sat: 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:30; Sun-Mon: 12:40, 3:40, 6:40; Tues: 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:30; Wed: 12:40, 3:40, 9:30; Thurs: 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:30

Onward (Dan Scanlon, US, 2020). Fri-Sat: 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 9:35; Sun: 9:50 a.m., 1:00, 4:00, 7:00; Mon: 1:00, 4:00, 7:00; Tues-Thurs: 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 9:35

Revival: Rope (Alfred Hitchcock, US, 1948). Wed: 7:30

Sonic The Hedgehog (Jeff Fowler, US, 2020). Fri-Sat: 1:05, 4:05, 7:05, 9:35; Sun: 9:45 a.m., 1:05, 4:05, 7:05; Mon: 1:05, 4:05, 7:05; Tues-Thurs: 1:05, 4:05, 7:05, 9:35

Revival: Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory (Mel Stuart, US, 1971). Sun: 10:00 a.m.; Mon: 1:00

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