The Invisible Man

The mark of a good story is how it can be adapted for modern audiences. Even though it was written by H.G. Welles in 1897, ‘The Invisible Man’ has seen many film versions. The most famous was the 1933 Claude Raines Universal horror movie that spawned numerous sequels. ‘The Invisible Man’ 2020 style echoes its forebears in successfully delivering a new twist on a classic tale.

Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) is trapped in an abusive relationship with her scientist boyfriend Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Fleeing from his clutches, she makes a new life for herself with the help of her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) and friend James (Aldis Hodge). Events suddenly take a mysterious turn when a deadly force threatens Cecilia’s existence. Confronted by an unseen enemy, she becomes determined to survive the ordeal before her life vanishes into thin air.

Written and directed by Leigh Whannell, ‘The Invisible Man’ is an assured production. Top of the list is its ability to craft genuine scares out of mundane situations. Instead of eliciting boredom or knowing expectations, Whannell uses the power of suggestion and silence to create a feeling of lingering terror. Thankfully free of false jump scares or too much gore, the script harks back to the 1930’s ‘Invisible Man’ movies as more of a psychological thriller than a non-stop horror-fest.

‘The Invisible Man’ also works due to Moss’ excellent performance. Her vulnerability and strength are expertly shown, making for a believable heroine. Whilst her co-stars are equally strong, Moss’s presence is an anchor to which the story clings. The moody cinematography and ethereal score keep the spooky atmosphere on a consistent high until the final reel.

A solid chiller you don’t see too often, ‘The Invisible Man’ is a welcome scary movie. Although not entirely without fault, it provides the drama and scares viewers need. Whannell knows the genre well and it will be interesting to see where his ghoulish talents end up next.

Rating out of 10: 7

Doctor Sleep

‘Doctor Sleep’ is a sequel to Stephen King’s famous novel, ‘The Shining’. Stanley Kubrick directed the 1980 film which became a horror classic. As usual in the entertainment world, success breeds sequels. To be fair, King has never shied away from follow-ups with several of his work spinning into new instalments. Directed by the consistently excellent Mike Flanagan, ‘Doctor Sleep’ effectively jangles the nerves until the final reel.

Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor), is still traumatized from past experiences. Having seen his father driven to madness whilst managing the Overlook Hotel, Danny’s life since has seen him turn to alcoholism and violence. Cursed with the abilities of ‘The Shining’, his attempts at a normal life are thwarted by Rose (Rebecca Ferguson) a cult leader determined to grab his powers. Returning to the Overlook Hotel, Danny hopes to defeat Rose’s coven and exorcise past demons.

More of a psychological thriller than genuine horror film, ‘Doctor Sleep’ generally succeeds in crafting an unsettling atmosphere. Danny’s plight feels very real as he attempts to stop being a slave to past evil and forge new horizons. McGregor is solid as always and is more than aided by Ferguson as his sinister adversary. She exudes true menace making for an unpredictable character who does whatever it takes to win.

Flanagan is wise to not use too much of the well known elements from ‘The Shining’ to support ‘Doctor Sleep’. It stands on its own feet with a strong story leading to a grand finale. There’s little gore to speak of which speaks volumes in Flanagan’s ability to generate scares without obvious clichés. As a continuation of the overall mythology, it successfully enhances what came before.

Films based on Stephen King novels have been very hit and miss. ‘Doctor Sleep’ rests in the former category with ease. It’s a finely tune terror movie that stays with you. Flanagan has a great future in the genre and hopefully he continues making works such as these to spook audiences for years to come.

Rating out of 10: 7