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Transparently good twist to H.G. Well’s ‘The Invisible Man’ (4K Ultra HD review)

Written By | May 27, 2020
Elizabeth Moss stars as Cecilia, an abused wife who battles an invisible stalker in "The Invisible Man," now available on 4K Ultra HD from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Elizabeth Moss stars as Cecilia, an abused wife who battles an invisible stalker in “The Invisible Man,” now available on 4K Ultra HD from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

One of Universal’s classic monsters resurfaced earlier this year to terrorize movie audiences in blockbuster proportions. His stellar debut on the ultra-high-definition format should equally petrify home theater owners in The Invisible Man (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Rated R, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 124 minutes, $44.98).

Adapted from the classic H.G. Wells book, the science fiction horror film from director Leigh Whannell finds Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) escaping by night from an abusive, controlling relationship with wealthy entrepreneurs and optics engineer Adrien Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen).

When he apparently commits suicide, her life seems to stabilize until mysterious physical events induce new levels of psychological torture perpetrated on her by a stalker who literally cannot be seen.

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Viewers will revel in the subtle brand of horror as the creepy premise plays out and the slightest changes of environments, such as something as simple as a puff of frozen breath behind Cecilia, signals the transparent presence.

Miss Moss delivers an engrossing, emotional performance literally using her acting chops to their fullest extent while reacting to nothing but making viewers truly believe the dangers she is experiencing.

I’m a big fan of Mr. Whannell based on his work with the “Insidious” film franchise as the first writer and then director. His supernatural sensibilities pay off as he delivers a memorable updated version of a classic character and his mischief.

4K in action:

Culled from the 4K digital intermediate, the film’s light-challenged scenes benefit greatly from high dynamic range enhancements and increased resolution.

With many dark, nighttime scenes and drab, sickly yellow, and green environments, the clarity of action remains strong. Leading to some nail-biting while watching, for example, a flashlight illuminating a dark forest or an attic crawl space.

Also, the imagery presented under contrasting light and darkness, as well as gradients of shadow, is equally crisp to bring to suspenseful life an often non-visually existent entity.

Best extras:

An all-important optional commentary track with the director leads the way, and it’s a good one. It is chock full of insight, inspiration, rationalizations, and revelations of his filming strategies.

Mr. Whannell quickly admits how much he hates it when people talk during movies, but he warns that he will be that annoying guy in theaters while acting like a magician revealing his tricks.

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He offers a near nonstop look at his masterpiece offering minutiae down to the recording of waves crashing on rocks while using drones for the opening sequence to neglecting to tell actors that a nighttime location area was filled with funnel-web spider nests.

Next, a quartet of featurettes (roughly 30 minutes) covers the cast, the original film from 1933, and a brief production diary that touches on moments with the director on the set during the 40-day shoot.

Also, viewers get 13 minutes of deleted scenes and, suffice it to report, the director made the correct choice in excising them.

• This story originally appeared in The Washington Times.

Joseph Szadkowski

A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in communications, Joseph Szadkowski has written about popular culture for The Washington Times for the past 25 years. He covers video games, comic books, new media and technology.