Not since the 1992 Candyman has there been a movie as concerned with a woman's efforts to be believed as 2020s The Invisible Man. The film, directed by Leigh Whannell, jettisons most of the concerns of previous versions of HG Wells' 1897 novel, instead of focusing the criminal mischief of the invisible Mr. Griffin on one person. Here, Griffin is obsessed with Cecilia "Cee" Cass, his girlfriend whom he has kept under his thumb in a controlling, abusive relationship. In the film's opening moments, Cecilia escapes from Adrian, and the violent way he reacts to her leaving in the middle of the night is vital to our understanding of the rest of the movie. We as audience members are the only ones who remember what Cecilia remembers: that Adrian is violent and cannot be trusted.
The Invisible Man really gets going when Cass, in hiding after her escape, learns that Griffin appears to have taken his own life. Has he? Anyone who has entered the theater knowing the title of the film is ready for the spoiler that no, he is invisible now. This Invisible Man is Tony Stark, if Tony Stark were as violent and obsessive as he is brilliant and arrogant. (This yields a question for the Marvel Universe: what would stop an evil Tony? Not much.)
What The Invisible Man presents most expertly is Cecelia's plight. When she is terrorized by Griffin, as Griffin smears her reputation and destroys her relationships, the film forces us to remain locked in Cecelia's point of view. Again and again, the characters don't believe her because she lacks evidence. And later, when she does, one of the good guys makes a compelling case that the truth—the real truth known only by Cecelia—isn't even important, not so much as a tidy story for everyone to tell. The film has twists that will make us doubt our own judgment—Cecilia is often exhausted and beyond able to make her own arguments. But in watching the film we the viewer are able to go back to the beginning of the movie and remember that we saw the controlling, violent Adrian. We can trust that memory. We can believe Cecilia even if no one else quite does. The Invisible Man is not the first #believewomen horror movie—Candyman and Single White Female, both from 1992 in the wake of the Anita Hill hearings, played heavily with the theme of the disbelieved heroine—but The Invisible Man is the first that seems to allegorize the hashtag's most recent strain: the woman accusing a powerful man that no one wants to believe is guilty.
We discussed The Invisible Man on the Castle of Horror as a standalone episode before beginning our next series of reviews. Let us know what you thought!
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Hosted by Jason Henderson, editor of the Castle of Horror Anthology and Young Captain Nemo and creator of the HarperTeen novel series Alex Van Helsing; featuring Drew Edwards, creator of Halloween Man; Tony Salvaggio, lead singer of the band Deserts of Mars, lead guitarist of the band Rise from Fire, and co-creator of Clockwerx from Humanoids; attorney Julia Guzman of Guzman Immigration of Denver; and Jamie Bahr, lead singer and upright bassist of the rock and roll band Danger*Cakes.