Do you know of this movie, ‘Wait Until Dark’? A 1967 film with Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman who is attacked in her own home. She waits until it’s dark, then breaks all the lamps so that the attacker, like her, will not be able to see. Hepburn was nominated for an Oscar for this role.
And do you know the story of ’The Sitter’, a short film, on which the 1979 ‘When a Stranger Calls’ is based? It is a suspenseful retelling of the classic urban legend of ’The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs’. A babysitter is menaced by mysterious and frightening phone calls telling her to “check the children’. When she seeks help from the police, they finally reveal the calls are coming from inside the house!
Now, ’The Invisible Man’.
When James Wan’s partner in crime, Leigh Whannell, on such blockbuster body-horror franchises like ’Saw’ and ‘Insidious’, decides to update James Whale’s 1933 film based on H.G. Well’s novel, the stage is set for a brand of horror that mixes the unreal with the very real fear of having no where to hide and no one to help you. Whannell made his name as both a writer and actor, fully clued to the open secret of all great horror films – the scariest things are those that you don’t see.
Ingrid Bergman won her first Best Actress Oscar playing a young bride going slowly, systematically mad in ‘Gaslight’. Is she losing her mind or her new husband is playing with her mind? The kind of manipulation that makes even the most rational human question their own sanity. It does seem no one has since looked more haunted than Elisabeth Moss in this film, whose best moments aren’t its numerous jump scares but the quieter, more existential ones.
When it comes to falling apart, no actor is more together than Moss. Whannell styles her as a Hitchockian blond, redefining clichés of both female hysteria and avenging angel. Feeling increasingly trapped as no one will believe her, Moss’ character is all nerve endings, a neurotic ninja, a marvel of wordless physicality. The first hour of the movie is, in fact, a classic example of some fine filmmaking alchemy in all departments – craftily written, engagingly acted, smartly shot and edited, and effectively scored.
I believe we are all fans of the horror genre. Some of us may not care to admit it. Some of us will cover our eyes but still peep through to watch. You see, this genre uses film as a medium in the best possible ways. To begin with, we need to watch a film in a darkened space. ‘The Invisible Man’ is the kind of back-to-basics horror that digs into our darkest and deepest recesses. In the hands of Whannell, with Moss on screen, the man may be invisible, but we can see and feel the fear.