The Invisible Man (2020), while not strictly a horror movie per se, has all the elements of what spooks us out when we are alone. Are we being watched? Is there an entity in the corner staring at us that we can't see? When we witness something being moved by an invisible force and we question our sanity because no one believes our stories. These are the similarities that The Invisible Man shares with your standard ghost stories, except in the case of The Invisible Man, the monster is a real person who can pretty much stab you with a knife. This gives new meaning to the Chinese saying, "Humans are scarier than ghosts."
The Invisible Man, originally written by H.G. Wells and published in 1897 has had many movie reincarnations over the years. The 2020 remake takes a different approach from its predecessors: The Invisible Man (1933) and Hollow Man (2000) show the antagonist's downward spiral from man to monster, but the 2020 version skips all that drama and tells the story from the perspective of the victim. This gave what would have been a suspense-thriller genre a dash of horror.
The first half of the show is a solid case study for anyone who wants to learn how to write and direct suspense: Wide shot of room, and empty hallways, letting audience’s imagination fill in the rest of the blank. The anxiety builds up to a pay off that is cleverly done without giving too much of the climax away too fast, too soon. The movie also didn’t waste time in trying to establish characters and backstory with lengthy exposition. The relationship between the protagonist and antagonist is revealed throughout the movie, giving the audience just enough information to understand the relationship without breaking the pace of the story.
The scream lead, Elisabeth Moss, looks like an aged Drew Barrymore but for what she lacks in looks, she make up for it with superb acting. We see Moss soloing in most of the scenes switching through different levels of fear - Fear in an abusive relationship; fear from psychological trauma; fear from chilling realisation, fear from self-doubting of mental capacity; fear from isolation; fear from direct invasion of personal space; fear of captivity; fear from seeing people getting murdered in front of her eyes. In some scenes, there was no dialogue and Moss had to emote only with her face. Imagine how different this movie would have been if they had cast that girl from Twilight (Kristen Stewart) for the role.
What If The Invisible Man Was Given an Asian Horror Make Over
Now this is where my creative juices kicks in. If I were given the task to adapt this to Asian horror, this is how I would have done it. (Note to producers: I’m available for hire.)
There are two mythologies that would work really well together which would give The Invisible Man (2020) the Asian twist it needs.
We fear ghosts because we cannot see them but they can see us. They can be in the same room with us, standing openly in the corner leering at us with malicious intent and we would be none the wiser. In the Asian version of The Invisible Man, I would bring the vengeful spirit back on the 7th day to haunt the living. The spirit would do all the things that was done in the Hollywood version of The Invisible Man except the haunting would take place in a tiny apartment befitting of Asian dwellings instead of a sub-urban American home.
And in the second part of The Invisible Man (2020), we see that in his non-invisible form, he looks very much like another popular Asian horror called the Orang Minyak. The term “orang minyak” literally means oily man in Malay. It is named as such because it is covered from head to toe in black oil-like substance.
Putting these two elements together, we can have a proper adaption that would work very well for the Asian audience. Is there any movie house out there who would like to take me up on this challenge?
Check out The Invisible Man trailer below. I give the movie a 4 star rating out of 5. If you would like to reach me, the best channel to do so is via Facebook.
Eugene Tay is a retired paranormal investigator and the author of the book Supernatural Confessions.