The Invisible Man (2020)

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Food: Before quarantine, my roommate and I went to Panna II Garden Indian Restaurant and got a table for the two of us. We each brought our own drinks – as encouraged there – so I had Mango White Seltzer and my roommate drank Newton’s Folly cider. To start, we shared the vegetable samosas (turnovers), which comes in a pair, so we each had one. I ordered and loved theĀ Vegetable Makhni which is fresh vegetables simmered in mildly spiced tomato and butter sauce. My roommate got the Saag Mottor Ponir which is green peas cooked with spinach and cheese in light sauce. Always recommend this spot – and great lighting (twinkle lights everywhere!) for fun pictures.

Film: “The Invisible Man” (2020) is a brilliant reinvention of the old film by James Whale in 1933, which was an adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells’ 1897 of the same name. Modernizing the applied science from a chemistry experiment to an optics engineer’s hobby, the story is still driven by the fear of technology, but this version brings a twist. By following the perspective of a young woman escaping her controlling boyfriend, the true terror is the helplessness of being gaslit by a mentally and physically abusive person. It is a #MeToo story, similar to “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), about a woman who is forced to question her sanity in the fight to find the truth.

Written and directed by Leigh Whannell, this “Invisible Man” begins with Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) collecting a hidden pill bottle from beneath her mattress, she creeps around a massive, contemporary mansion gathering her belongings and checking through a security camera she has directed towards the bedroom to make sure the man sleeping there has not woken up. It calls to mind the intricate planning and vigilance required for the Julia Roberts escape in “Sleeping With The Enemy” in 1991.

With the help of her sister (Harriet Dyer), Cecilia has freed herself from Adrian’s grip (played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen), and is staying with her friend, a cop named James (Aldis Hodge) and his teenage daughter Sydney (Storm Reid). Though she is safe, it is clear that she has become a near agoraphobic, unable to walk further than the driveway for fear of Adrian finding her whereabouts. That is until her sister arrives bringing the news that he has died, of apparent suicide.

Initially, this comes as a relief, and Cecilia is able to enjoy a short recess from her trauma, in order to rebuild her friendships and her life. She is even granted a lump sum of money from Adrian’s will, the news delivered by his unsavory brother Tom (Michael Dorman). It is not long, however, that Cecilia is haunted by an un-explainable presence that she is certain is Adrian. The sheets are missing from her bed, a pill bottle shows up from the night of her escape. Adrian is sending her signs, Cecilia knows without a doubt. Adrian is not dead.

The film so viscerally captures the terror of waiting for the next ball to drop. Adrian looms over her every move and it is agonizing. His power feels unstoppable and untraceable, but we, just as much as she, knows it is real. However, no one else does. Elizabeth Moss portrays Cecilia’s exasperation with validity. One of the most powerful thing that an abuser will do to it’s victims is rob them of their options until they are wholly isolated. “The Invisible Man” is charged by constant psychological dread, and it makes brilliant horror.

Several years ago, Universal Studios actually had the rights for this remake, pairing it with other monster movie franchises such as Frankenstein and The Mummy, as part of their “Dark Universe.” Their version had a script written by Ed Solomon and would have starred Johnny Depp. However, due to the lack of success with The Mummy, the project was scrapped. Though, one can assume that this version of “The Invisible Man,” it is unlikely it would have brought the focus, clarity and gravity of this one. It is a monster movie about the types of monsters that have reigned over organizations and individuals wielding their power and skillful manipulation to control those around them. It is these real monsters that are the hardest to squash.

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