Whether his return was inevitable or long-overdue (or both!), THE INVISIBLE MAN will soon materialize on the big screen once again. Based in part on the H.G. Wells science fiction novel of the same name, THE INVISIBLE MAN has a long, storied history as part of the Universal Monsters franchise.
This new film, however, is very different from the original; THE INVISIBLE MAN 2020 is a very modern take on a classic horror story. We're excited about this new reboot, especially given the people involved. The film has a ways to go before being finished, but as the 2020 release of THE INVISIBLE MAN creeps closer, here’s everything you need to know.
This first INVISIBLE MAN 2020 trailer is one of the scariest trailers we've seen in a while. It lays out a lot of the story, and shows off how dedicated the star performances are. Elisabeth Moss always gives her all, so she's the ideal lead for a horror film like this. You know she's going to make her character's terror feel totally real.
In 2017, before the premiere of Tom Cruise’s THE MUMMY, Universal Studios outlined a detailed plan for a series of interconnected films drawing on their library of classic Universal Monsters. This was to be the Dark Universe. In this configuration, big stars would essay the major characters, with an emphasis on populist appeal.
For THE INVISIBLE MAN, Universal had earmarked Johnny Depp, with Russell Crowe set to play Henry Jekyll (who would turn into Mr. Hyde) and Javier Bardem set to play Frankenstein's monster. THE MUMMY ended up being the only film in that series, however. Universal quickly reshuffled the deck, putting a new BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN feature (directed by Bill Condon and supposedly set to star Angelina Jolie) on the back burner to rethink the approach to the Universal Monsters. Thankfully, there was a great idea waiting for THE INVISIBLE MAN.
[Image Credit: Invisible Man 2020 Producers, Blumhouse]
Now, Universal plans to make stand-alone features. Instead of big budget extravaganzas, they’ve decided to focus on smaller, scarier projects. The studio has help from Jason Blum, a producer whose track record for modestly-budgeted, high-concept hits is absolutely unparalleled. He made GET OUT, THE PURGE, and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, for example.
When this deal came together, Blum was just coming off the refresh of another highly recognizable horror brand for Universal: HALLOWEEN. Blum recruited writer/director Leigh Whannell, who has written all of the INSIDIOUS films for Blumhouse; he directed the third film too, and also last year’s terrific sci-fi yarn UPGRADE. Their mission: to put a fresh spin on THE INVISIBLE MAN.
Whannell wasn’t interested in regurgitating the beloved original 1933 version of THE INVISIBLE MAN, or in going back to the classic H.G. Wells novel. He took an entirely new approach instead.
Elisabeth Moss plays Cecilia, whose abusive ex-boyfriend commits suicide. Disturbed by that tragedy, she starts to put the pieces of her life back together. Until that is, she begins to suspect that her ex-boyfriend might not actually be dead. Instead, he might just be … impossible to see. Soon, Cecilia is being tormented by her not-dead ex. That's what she claims, at least. Since her ex has found a way to hide himself away from sight, her claims are difficult to take seriously, and it looks like her situation gets a lot worse before it gets better.
This is such a cool take on the material, which feels modernized and also incredibly creepy, with some social commentary thrown in for good measure. Based on the synopsis, it also has the potential to be truly terrifying. That's something that even the original, for all of its brilliant production design and innovative visual effects, wasn’t ever able to truly achieve. (Don't get us wrong; the original is great; it's just more weird than scary.)
The cast also includes Storm Reid (from WRINKLE IN TIME), Aldis Hodge and Harriet Dyer. With this plot and this cast, it’ll definitely be something folks will pay to, ahem, see.
While an interconnected series of monster movies seems to be out of the question right now, the idea of direct sequels is still a possibility. Blumhouse has been able to turn several of its films into viable franchises, including Whannell’s INSIDIOUS. As with many of the original wave of Universal monster movies, the original INVISIBLE MAN spawned several hit follow-ups of its own, too. There were THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS, THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, THE INVISIBLE AGENT, and THE INVISIBLE MAN’S REVENGE.
Could this new film follow a similar trajectory? And will Blumhouse follow up THE INVISIBLE MAN with more monsters from the Universal Monsters canon? The Dark Universe may be dead, but there’s a lot more life left in these characters.
All images courtesy of Universal Pictures, except where indicated.