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There is a lot riding on the success of The Invisible Man for Director Leigh Whannell. However, perhaps more weighs on the shoulders of the Invisible Man himself as a horror monster who is the first in the latest round of Universal Monsters reboots.

This film needs to be a hit for Universal Studios, Blumhouse, the monster, and the overall Monsters franchise. Judging by the box-office receipts this weekend, it looks to be a hit, at least financially. But is it good?

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is… very yes.

Reintroducing the Invisible Man

Leigh Whannell (Insidious: Chapter 3, Upgrade) directs the simultaneous adaptation and reboot of H. G. Well’s novel and Universal’s The Invisible Man series. Whannel does double duty as well, serving as the writer. The film stars Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, and Harriet Dyer.

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The Invisible Man has been in development roughly since 2007. In that time it has been attached to Johnny Depp and was considered to be a potential inclusion into a now-defunct shared cinematic universe that fell apart after The Mummy (2017). The project only truly took off when Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions stepped in and it was decided to update these classic monsters as stand-alone projects.

What Works about The Invisible Man?

Elizabeth Moss makes up the majority of the screen time and the film is all the better for it.

The film works incredibly well as a re-imagining of a classic. It is very much in the spirit and tone of the work of H. G. Wells. It utilizes contemporary horror aesthetics and modern technology to craft the Invisible Man into a real threat for today. This is especially true given that the film is dealing with very topical themes of stalking, the abuse of women, and how women are victimized at the hands of powerful men. This film is a feminist work, through and through. A better #MeToo film that last year’s Black Christmas by a large margin.

A lot of the feminist energy of the film comes from the work done by Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia Kass. Moss is one of the best actresses working today, becoming iconic across series like Mad Men and The Handmaid’s Tale. She is fantastic in the film and very much the reason why an invisible person is so menacing. Her horror, exhaustion, paranoia, and own eventual menace is propulsive. It helps that Cecilia, a survivor of physical and psychological abuse is also incredibly smart as a protagonist. Cecilia, for as much as she goes through, only falls into true despair once and becomes galvanized to seek her revenge after a pivotal scene of an innocent falling under attack.

The plotting is very tight in the film and there were no real shortcuts to position characters to where they needed to be for the film to play out as effectively as it does.

The Predatory Camera

Griffin breathing down Cecilia’s neck.

What makes the movie stand out beyond being a solid reboot is that it does some truly interesting things with this take. What is most impressive, though, is the staging and shots. The camera becomes The Invisible Man in a very real sense at times. It is never quite clear (until the end) quite where the titular Invisible Man is.

The staging just makes it clear he is there and it is chilling. It gets even worse with some of the tracking shots. It makes the viewer complicit in the stalking. It’s unsavory. It’s damn good.

What Didn’t Work?

The Invisible Man made somewhat visible.
Griffin, a cipher, still exudes true menace.

The tight plotting of the film can be a detriment to some of the surprise of more trope-literature viewers. Beats that you expect to happen by the introductions of certain characters, scene arrangements, and one very transparent Chekov’s gun moment may reduce the overall shock of the film. This is, of course, barring a very satisfying moment with a knife that sets up the climax of the film.

Despite the importance of the Invisible Man throughout the film, the character is, to a great degree, a non-presence (queue the laughs). We get very little of Griffin as an individual beyond predatory menace and a rather illuminating scene near the end of the movie.

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This is a film that I feel might have benefited from some flashbacks to establish the abusive history between Adrian and Cecilia. The film works wonderfully in subtext and Griffin looms large over everything, both as an invisible body and a psychological specter.

I just feel it would be interesting to dive into his character a bit more. But on the other hand, I do not want to take away a second of screentime from Elisabeth Moss, either.

I’d be very curious about the potential of a director’s cut.

Final Verdict

Blumhouse Productions has managed to tackle one classic 1970s horror icon in Michael Meyers. With The Invisible Man, the sights were set further back and the studio has not missed a beat. If this film is indicative of the Blumhouse approach to future Universal Monsters then fans are in for a real treat. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Please read about some of our other horror reviews here at Haunted MTL and share your thoughts on The Invisible Man in the comments.

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David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

Movies n TV

The Boys, The Insider

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We’ve reached the second to last episode of The Boys, season four. And, as is appropriate for the penultimate episode of any show, things have to get a lot worse before they can get better.

Let’s discuss.

The story

Christmas is coming, and the whole world is getting ready. Ryan, despite being very clear that he didn’t want to appear on any TV shows or movies, has been strong-armed into participating in a Vought puppet Christmas special. He draws the line, though, when asked to sing about turning one’s parents in if they start talking about woke things.

Cameron Crovetti in The Boys.

Meanwhile, The Boys are trying to keep each other together. Butcher decides to take Sameer to the rest of the team. He also gets Frenchie out of prison, hoping they can make the Sup virus necessary to finally take down Homelander. Instead, this decision means disaster for one member of the team.

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What worked

I first want to talk about Ryan’s speech near the end of the episode. Because it was exactly the moral of this whole story.

Ryan’s dad is a monster. His stepdad is also kind of a monster. But Ryan is a good kid. He cares about people, about family. And while he loves Homelander and Butcher, he doesn’t want to be like them.

Even better, this speech sounded like something a kid would say. Ryan didn’t open his mouth and start sounding like a college student all of a sudden. He sounds like a kid who misses his mom and wants to live up to the good standards she set for him. And I think that’s terrific.

Speaking of Homelander, he shot himself in the foot in this episode. I said earlier in the season that his hubris was going to be his downfall, and I was right. Without Sage, he just has the same weaknesses he’s always had. He’s going to fail because he just isn’t clever enough or patient enough to succeed.

Without Sage, I think a win is in the bag for The Boys. This isn’t to say that Homelander by himself isn’t dangerous. It’s just that he’s more like a wildfire than a controlled burn. He’s going to cause a lot of damage, but not get anything he wants out of it.

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More’s the pity for him and everyone else who has to share his world.

Finally, I am thrilled with A-Train’s redemption story. I love that he wants to be a good person not to save himself, but to be a good person. His honest, pure and warm reaction to that little kid smiling at him in the last episode was heartwarming. It changed him in a moment, bringing to light a goodness that he’s been keeping under wraps for a long time.

Jessie T. Usher in The Boys.

This, along with Ryan’s courageous speech, proves once again what The Boys does so well. Yes, it’s gruesome. Yes, there’s blood and balls and batshit events. Yes, someone occasionally gets ripped in half. But there is a true human goodness in the story. One that we catch glimpses of. There are good people among the monsters. There is hope for redemption.

What didn’t work

Of course, so few things in this life are perfect, and this episode was no exception. For instance, I was irritated by the insinuation that Butcher cheated on his wife.

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That just doesn’t make any sense. We’ve seen flashbacks of Billy and Becca. They were happy. He was happy. He was head over heels for her. And I don’t think it’s realistic or necessary for the character to throw in that he cheated. It does nothing to add to the story, it’s just a weird and offputting moment.

Doesn’t Butcher have enough to hate about himself? Can’t we just give him that at least he was a good husband?

Finally, I kind of hate that we ended up with Annie being caught. It’s just cliche, which is something I don’t normally say about this show. It feels lazy unless they do something very clever with it in the last episode. Which, I suppose, they might.

Next up is the season finale. And with this season being as insane as it has been, I’m expecting nothing short of bloody fireworks. And I mean literal fireworks of blood. At this point, would it surprise anyone?

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

The Boys, Dirty Business

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Episode six of The Boys was one of the most surprising episodes of the series so far. And that is certainly saying something. Because this season has so far been bonkers.

The story

Our episode today revolves around a party at Tek Knight’s lovely mansion. Yes, it does look just like Wayne Manor.

The Boys know that Tek Knight is working with Homelander on something, but they don’t know the details. So they decide to send Hughie in to bug the mansion.

Because that’s worked so well the other two times he’s tried to hide a bug!

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It should surprise no one that this time goes no better. Hughie finds himself in Tek Knight’s basement. And by that I mean his BDSM dungeon.

Meanwhile, the party upstairs is no less disturbing. Homelander and Sage are trying to convince some well-off political donors to support a cue after the election. When pressed for details on his plan, Homelander freezes. He looks to Sage for help, but she wasn’t recently shot in the head and still in the junk food stage of her healing.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, Neuman jumps in and saves the day.

Claudia Doumit in The Boys.

What works

If I’m going to say one thing about this episode, it didn’t hold back at all. I didn’t expect them to show a character masturbating, sitting their bare behind on a cake, or spraying breastmilk into someone’s face. But every time I thought they’d cut the scene and let something be left to our imagination, they did not do that.

Derek Wilson in The Boys.

This is a dangerous move. Whenever you show the monster, you run the risk of them not being scary enough, or gross enough. As Stephen King says in Danse Macabre, to leave this sort of thing to the imagination if the reader makes things so much worse. So when they finally experience the monster, they might say that this isn’t so bad. It could have been so much worse.

But in this case, they managed to avoid that by making the scenes, especially the ones in Tek Knight’s dungeon, so much worse than I imagined it would be.

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What doesn’t work

While this was a deeply disturbing episode in many ways, there was one really innocent and sweet moment.

And yes, I did have a problem with it.

Confronted by Firecracker, Annie decides to apologize for spreading rumors about her when they were kids. She tells her that she is genuinely sorry.

And I believe her. I don’t think Firecracker did, but I did.

So why is this an issue? Because I’m starting to think that Annie is maybe too nice. She is too good.

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I know that Annie is our good guy. But every one of the other good guys has flaws. Hughie let his pride get in the way and took Temp V. MM hid himself from his daughter instead of teaching her to work through her emotions. Kimiko is far too closed off and has a hard time trusting others. Frenchie numbs himself with drugs. And well, what hasn’t Butcher done?

It is unrealistic that Annie is just so kind and so flawless. We all have shadows in our personalities. We all have weaknesses, we all mess up. We all do things we wish we could take back. The fact that Annie doesn’t seem to have anything like that is not just unrealistic. It’s infantilizing.

Give her some deep dark secrets. Give her something real to regret.

This was a shocking episode, even for someone fairly jaded like me. I wasn’t expecting the sort of weird sexual depravity, though I guess maybe I should have seen it coming. It was dark, upsetting, tense, and funny as hell. And with just two episodes left in the season, I can imagine the stakes are only going to get higher.

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing you can get my short story, Man In The Woods, on Smashwords and Amazon.

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Movies n TV

House of he Dragon: S2E4 – The Return of Trogdor!

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Instead of recapping this episode, I will link you to Strongbad, so you can see something with a dragon that doesn’t suck.

See you for Episode 5!

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