Universal Pictures has been trying to get the Universal Monsters back in theaters for years and it appears they finally hit a home run. After The Mummy was a box office and critical failure it looked like the Dark Universe was dead. Then it was announced that Blumhouse would be taking over a production based on The Invisible Man. To say that people had low expectations would be an understatement but after a solid opening weekend and critical acclaim, it looks like the classic monsters are once again winners. Fandom did an extensive interview with director Leigh Whannell and one of the reasons he was excited to do the Invisible Man is because, unlike some of the other Universal Monsters, the Invisible Man isn't as prominent in the public consciousness which gave him more freedom to explore and surprise audiences.
"Dracula, Frankenstein, they have all these rules. Dracula's rules are what makes him great. He can be killed by sunlight. He can be driven back by a cross. Everyone knows the rules of Dracula; the garlic, the holy water, the sunlight. And that's what makes the vampire genre fun is finding new ways to work within those rules. But the Invisible Man, he's not a monster. He doesn't have supernatural powers. He's just a guy. He has this invisibility but he's human. As opposed to Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, who became creatures more than human. Even the original [Invisible Man] film and novel is about the failings and frailties of the common man and how this man is driven insane by this power. It's unique in that respect compared to those other iconic monsters and that does give you more freedom I think. I realized I can tell a story about a psychopath. What happens when you give a psychopath the power of invisibility, as opposed to when you're telling a Dracula story and you have to constantly not tread on that fable and that character and his upbringing. If you told a Batman movie and suddenly he was born in Romania and he wasn't rich, people would be up in arms. You have to stick to the mythology that Bruce Wayne was a young man when his parents were killed. No matter what version of Batman they do, and which way they take it visually, they have to stick to that. The Invisible Man I don't feel he has that written in stone mythology."
The fear of the unknown is the most effective horror tool and one that modern-day horror movies tend to forget. Nothing is more frightening than the horror you picture in your own mind. Whannell wanted to make sure that we didn't know a lot about the villain and in fact we hardly see Oliver Jackson-Cohen Adrian Griffin at all before he becomes the Invisible Man. Whannell cites one of the best horror movies of all time as an example.
"I didn't want to know too much about him. I wanted him to be mysterious. To me that's always the scariest thing is when this malevolent figure you're supposed to be afraid of in the film is a little bit unknowable. You don't know all the rules. Off the top of my head, if you think about something like The Exorcist, you have a story about this young girl being possessed. You never know who the demon is. It'd be a very different movie if someone came in and said 'Oh yes, this demon was cast out of hell in 1400 BC and he hates fire.' What's interesting about The Exorcist is that you never see the bad guy. People think that the little girl covered in scratches and vomit is the bad guy. No, that's the little girl. You're actually trying to save her. You never get to see this demon. You hear of him through her. But I believe a big reason that film is powerful today is because of the mystery. That you really never get to touch this force, ever… I just felt that keeping the Invisible Man hidden and mysterious would be a good answer to him."
When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
The Invisible Man, directed by Leigh Whannell, stars Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen. It's out now.