How does Universal Pictures update their classic coterie of monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Invisible Man for the movie-going audiences of today?
Well, the studio already quite famously attempted to channel the Marvel format with an ambitious shared cinematic universe of horror-tinged adventure movies centered around, of all actors, Tom Cruise.
Though, after 2017’s The Mummy was met with jeers from critics and general indifference from domestic audiences, Universal decided to to drop the so-called “Dark Universe” project despite already having talent like Johnny Depp and Russell Crowe signed on for future installments (and the possibility of adding Angelina Jolie as the Bride of Frankenstein existing as a never-confirmed rumor repeated often in the trades).
Alas, movie studios aren’t going to give up on their prized intellectual property that easily these days. It seems that someone at the studio noticed that socially conscious horror movies are all the rage these days. So they’ve turned to super-producer Jason Blum, whose Blumhouse Productions gave us Get Out, Happy Death Day, and The Purge, for help.
Wasting almost no time, we’ve already got the first trailer for the initial offering from the partnership: the Elisabeth Moss-starring remake of the classic The Invisible Man. The modern twist applied to the old H.G. Wells story feels both surprising and completely natural.
In Wells’ original novel, a scientist (known as “Griffin”) with existing evil tendencies develops a technique to render himself invisible but is driven ever more mad when he realizes he can’t reverse the procedure.
At first while attempting to live a secluded if not somewhat normal existence as a man cloaked in bandages and a coat, Griffin just decides to get naked (and thus completely invisible) and starts a violent rampage across a small town. The same story has been told over and over again as both movies and television series, with slight alterations made to the formula (sometimes the character is made more sympathetic by starting off as a relatively good guy, for example).
Directed by Leigh Whannell, this version will completely upend the formula. This time known as Dr. Adrian Griffin, this invisible person starts out as an abusive man who stages his suicide and blames it on his girlfriend Cecilia Kass (played by Moss). Gradually though, Cecilia starts to suspect that Griffin isn’t really did and is now somehow terrorizing her. It should be obvious from the name that it’s because he’s managed to turn himself invisible.
While everyone else around her seems to think that it’s Kass who is going insane, from the looks of the trailer it looks like she’s very likely to get her revenge. With themes of gaslighting baked right into the trailer, it seems like the movie will not be shy about it’s themes. While you could argue that Wells original story isn’t amongst them, many of the original stories that inspired Universal’s classic movie monsters did include social commentary in their narratives.
The Invisible Man is set for release on February 28th, 2020. We’ll be curious what other modern twists Blum can apply to other classic monsters should it be successful.