The Invisible Man (2020)

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Horror;
Box Office $64.91 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray, $44.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for some strong bloody violence and language.
Stars Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, Oliver Jackson-Cohen.

Writer-director Leigh Whannell’s new version of The Invisible Man is a masterfully crafted example of using a relatively simple premise to build suspense while keeping the audience guessing.

The script is centered on the concept of the “invisible man” as a metaphor for the constant fear experienced by someone who escapes a traumatic situation only to wonder if they will eventually be found and hunted by their abuser.

Elisabeth Moss gives a compelling performance as Cecilia, who in the opening scenes carries out an elaborate plan to leave her boyfriend, Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), in the middle of the night while he sleeps. We never see their relationship in play, only hear about it second-hand from her, which immediately puts us in her head and begins the mind games that make the film so effective.

Cecilia gets word that Adrian has died, and begins to ease out of her fears once she learns he left her a $5 million inheritance. Yet she can’t shake the feeling that he’s somehow still haunting her, surmising that as a leading scientist in the field of optics he was able to construct some sort of invisibility suit.

Her friends and family begin to doubt her sanity, and even the audience is left to wonder what’s really going on, and how much of her troubles are either in her head or a result of her losing touch with reality.

Even when the film peels back the curtain about what’s really going on, we’re still left guessing as to who is doing what, who is planning what, and whether there’s another layer of manipulation we have yet to comprehend.

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And to think, the studio’s original plans for the film would have had it be a more conventional remake starring Johnny Depp as the title character, fitting into the shared “Dark Universe” of Universal movie monsters before that franchise became a non-starter after the awful 2017 version of The Mummy snuffed it out.

Instead, it was re-conceived by Whannell, co-creator (along with James Wan) of the “Saw” and “Insidious” franchises, and placed under the auspices of producer Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions, experts at crafting low-budget suspense thrillers for big returns (even before the coronavirus lockdowns cut short its theatrical run, the film grossed $126 million worldwide against a budget o $7 million).

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The Blu-ray includes a terrific solo commentary track by Whannell, which is one of the better examples of such an accompaniment nowadays. Both witty and effusive, Whannell delves into the challenges of shooting the film in Australia to make it look like America, while setting up shots to cover the empty spaces where someone we can’t see might be standing.

The Blu-ray also includes nine deleted scenes totaling about 13-and-a-half minutes. The scenes are pretty good on their own and even inform some of the scenes in the final film, but why they were removed is understandable.

There are also four making-of featurettes that pack a lot of insight into less than a half-hour of screentime. The primary one is the 11-minute “Director’s Journey With Leigh Whannell,” which serves as a basic behind-the-scenes featurette and is a good companion to the commentary.

The four-minute “Moss Manifested” puts the spotlight on Elisabeth Moss and her interpretation of the role, and the five-and-a-half-minute “The Players” focuses on the rest of the cast.

Finally, “Timeless Terror” examines how Whannell reimagined the story and imbued it with modern themes.

Blu-ray Disc, DVD Releases Spur Viewership of ‘Birds of Prey’, ‘Call of the Wild’, ‘Fantasy Island’

Home viewership for Warner Bros.’ Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, 20th Century Fox’s The Call of the Wild, and Sony Pictures’ Fantasy Island soared after the three films were released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on May 12.

Birds of Prey, a superhero sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad, shot to No. 1 on the “Watched at Home” chart for the week ended May 16, up from No. 8 the prior week.

The Call of the Wild, an adventure film starring Harrison Ford and based on the classic Jack London novel, soared to No. 4 from No. 13 on the chart, which tracks transactional video activity compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

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And Fantasy Island, a Blumhouse Productions horror film starring Michael Peña and scream queen Lucy Hale, debuted at No. 6 in the wake of its May 12 release on disc.

Also new to the weekly chart is Universal Pictures’ The Invisible Man, which debuted at No. 14 after it became available for digital purchase through retailers such as Redbox on Demand, FandangoNow, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play.

The film, about a woman stalked by her “invisible,” and supposedly dead, boyfriend, had initially been released to home audiences in mid-March, when movie theaters went dark due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, at a premium VOD price of $19.99. Consumers can now buy it for $14.99.

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Sony Pictures’ Bloodshot, a superhero film based on the Valiant Comics character of the same name, slipped to No. 2 on the “Watched at Home” chart from No. 1 the prior week.

Another Sony Pictures film, Bad Boys for Life, dropped a notch to No. 3 from No. 2, with Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog rounding out the top five after finishing at No. 3 the prior week.

  1. Birds of Prey (Warner)
  2. Bloodshot (Sony)
  3. Bad Boys for Life (Sony)
  4. The Call of the Wild (Fox, 2020)
  5. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
  6. Fantasy Island (Sony)
  7. I Still Believe (Lionsgate)
  8. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony)
  9. The Gentlemen (STX/Universal, 2019)
  10. 1917 (Universal)
  11. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)
  12. Dolittle (Universal)
  13. Little Women (Sony, 2019)
  14. The Invisible Man (Universal, 2020)
  15. Knives Out (Lionsgate)
  16. Rick and Morty Season 4 (Warner)
  17. Gretel & Hansel (Warner)
  18. Underwater (Fox)
  19. Ford v Ferrari (Fox)
  20. Yellowstone Season 2 (Paramount)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended May 16

 

‘Invisible Man’ Gets Post-PVOD Digital, Disc Release Dates

The Invisible Man, the Jason Blum-produced thriller whose theatrical run was cut short by the novel coronavirus pandemic, will be released by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment through digital retailers on May 12 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc and DVD on May 26.

Viewers for the first time will get the opportunity to see more than 20 minutes of bonus content — including a close-up look at lead actress Elisabeth Moss, feature commentary with writer-director Leigh Whannell, and deleted scenes — which wasn’t available when the film was initially released to digital streaming channels, at a premium “rental” rate of $19.99, after movie theaters went dark.

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The film, in which Whannell reimagines Universal’s classic unseeable character against a backdrop of an empowered woman facing her abusive former boyfriend, was released theatrically Feb. 28 and earned more than $64 million at the domestic box office before theaters were shuttered in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. On March 16, Universal became the first studio to pull its entire movie slate out of theaters and make them available for home viewing at a premium rate.

The Invisible Man stars Moss (from “The Handmaid’s Tale”) as Cecilia Kass, who slowly begins to rebuild her life after the death of her abusive ex-boyfriend (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). But before long, she begins to question whether or not he is truly gone.

The film also stars Aldris Hodge (“Black Mirror,” Straight Outta Compton) and Storm Reid (Don’t Let Go, “Euphoria”).

Bonus content includes:

  • “Moss Manifested” — Star Elisabeth Moss describes the physical and emotional challenges she faced while portraying Cecilia, a woman whose truth is constantly questioned by those around her.
  • “Director’s Journey With Leigh Whannell” — Director Leigh Whannell acts as tour guide through principal photography, from day 1 to day 40.
  • “The Players” — Filmmakers and cast provide an in-depth analysis of each character and how they interact with the unseen terror of the “invisible” tormentor.
  • “Timeless Terror” — A behind-the-scenes look at how writer-director Whannell reimagined the iconic “invisible man” character through the lens of modern technology and socially relatable themes.
  • Feature commentary with Whannell.

Amazon Studios Inks Production Deal with Blumhouse Television

Amazon Studios Nov. 14 announced an exclusive production deal with Jason Blum’s indie studio Blumhouse Television for a series of eight thriller/darkly-themed feature-length programs that will be released on Amazon Prime Video.

This marks Amazon Studios’ first global direct-to-service deal for feature length programs. The deal would allow the studio to broaden and reach new audiences seeking cutting-edge, elevated genre movies and fresh content. Amazon recently closed exclusive first-look deals with Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films, director Reed Morano, and Oscar winner Jordan Peele.

“Jason Blum has built an empire based on fear, shock and all things spinetingling,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “He has redefined the horror genre for fans who are hungry for high concept scares. Whether it’s found footage, a socially conscious terror comedy or a pure sinister adrenaline ride, he reinvented and infused the genre with cultural relevancy.”

Indeed, Blumhouse Television, which bowed in 2017, has earned critical acclaim and numerous honors for its dark, edgy fare including Emmy awards for its productions of HBO’s “The Normal Heart” and “The Jinx,” and documentary “How to Dance in Ohio.”

Other Blumhouse projects include a limited series for Showtime based on journalist Gabriel Sherman’s reporting on former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, starring Russell Crowe, and “Sharp Objects,” the limited series from Marti Noxon and Gillian Flynn for HBO based on Flynn’s best-selling novel of the same name, starring Amy Adams and directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (“Pretty Little Lies”).

The studio also produces “The Purge,” on USA Network; “Sacred Lies,” for Facebook Watch, and the holiday themed anthology event series “Into the Dark” for Hulu.

Blumhouse Productions, which is widely-recognized for its pioneering model of producing high-quality micro-budget films including The PurgeGet Out and Whiplash.

Meanwhile, Amazon Studios continues to produce and distribute theatrical movies. Up next is Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, the official Polish entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, which opens exclusively in theaters Dec. 21.

Currently in theaters are Luca Guadagnino’s  Suspiria, starring Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson, and Felix van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet.