The modern film remake should be the textbook definition of ‘hit or miss’, especially when it comes to horror. Nearly every single horror property has been remade and I can’t even think of a franchise that hasn’t gotten that treatment. Some remakes have been successful and of high quality. Take 2017’s IT and 2019’s Child’s Play for example. Both films managed to take a beloved character and correctly modernize them all while keeping the classic elements which made the characters iconic in the first place. The Invisible Man, however, looked to fall within abreed of horror that’s doomed to fail; The modern adaptation of a true classic. Nearly every reboot of a Universal Monsters property has failed with the only exception being The Mummy. But that’s simply one film out of over a dozen. They never work.
Enter Leigh Whannell, co-creator of the Saw and Insidious franchises, to subvert expectations and make a subtle horror film that feels genuine both in scares and messaging. Unlike the 1933 classic, 2020’s The Invisible Man focuses on a woman who fears that her abusive ex-boyfriend has risen from the dead to haunt her and ruin her entire life. Elizabeth Moss, who plays the victimized Cecilia, is fantastic and proves that actors can do a lot with nothing by convincing audiences that there’s something through body language, facial expression, and well-written dialogue. Regarding the infamous Griffin, he’s not really prominent in this film… and that’s great! Whannell takes the Jaws approach and merely teases the appearance of Griffin, saving his reveal for the very end. You can only hear him occasionally and while Oliver Jackson-Cohen is not Claude Rains, the filmmakers seem to recognize this and use him only sparingly. The film doesn’t use an overhaul of jumpscares and instead utilizes music, tension, and overall creepiness to spook the audience.