22 August 2021 364 Views

#WTAF (Weird Theories about Film). THE INVISIBLE WO(MAN)?

by James Murphy

What if that lady protagonist is in fact her own antagonist? A fresh slant on 2020’s sci-fi chiller..

 

 

Horror is back in a big way. DEMONIC has opened to mixed reviews. Ditto, OLD. Meanwhile, THE NIGHT HOUSE has won near universal acclaim. I must admit  that horror is not my favourite genre. But I do understand its appeal and indeed why it is booming in our still sadly uncertain times. Hence my curiosity regarding CANDYMAN, too.

And that got me thinking. THE INVISIBLE MAN was a surprise hit of 2020 and arguably saved the notion of traditional property titles being reinvented, after the whole ‘Dark Universe’ setback. Prima facie, the movie is a simple, tight, effective psychological thriller. Yet it is still horror in a way and a ‘chiller’.

Woman in peril, on run from abusive boyf; he won’t take no for an answer so builds invisible suit to menace her either toward certain breakdown and death or back to his control. I enjoyed the film. There is talk of a sequel and even its mooted title, THE INVISIBLE WOMAN could in theory reflect the truly underlying meaning of the first film.

IE: What if the invisible ‘man’ was in fact a woman, all along? Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) is a truly sympathetic heroine for the most part of the film. We feel for her and fear for her at once. This is a woman with the world against her, as one by one even trusted allies begin to lose faith in the version of events she has presented. There are innocent casualties along the way. But, spoiler alert – Cecilia manages to triumph and vengefully so.

Therein lies the seed of my theory. We watch an entire film about a woman who seems defined by kindness and vulnerability and those qualities have been manipulated and attacked. So that’s at odds, somewhat, with the manner in which she offs the supposed baddie at the end. It’s not the usual thriller trope of last minute self defence in the final act home invasion. Cold, calculated, clinical. And at the same time? Visceral, nasty, sadistic, bloody.

One might see that as a character arc, a tragedy in itself (the trauma changed the girl’s personality?). Perhaps a nod to some Frankenstein parallel (she has become the monster?). But it’s very possibly more than that..

  • Notice that everyone seems to KNOW that this girl has some sort of ‘form’ for distress / edgy vulnerability. 
  • Might there therefore have been some nervous breakdown or psychotic incident in her past?
  • We never actually ‘see’ her supposedly baddie boyf’ abuse her. All we have is her perception of his posing a threat.
  • What if his machinations are all in her head? Yes, he may have invented an invisible suit. He need not have done so for nefarious ends.

 

  • She knows where everything is in the house and how to escape it. At odds, surely, with her being cut off from any say in the running of that home? Could she in fact have been instrumental in the invention and development of the invisible tech?
  • There is a murder in a very public place about half way through the film. Surely therefore at least one witness or CCTV would pick up the fact that Cecilia is not the killer? Yet they pick her up, anyway? Maybe she did do it.
  • Equally, in subsequent scenes in an asylum, there is ample opportunity for the invisible tech to fail (as it almost does) and the villain to be exposed by security / other patients etc. Yet again, however, it’s the heroine who remains largely in the frame until the very last minute. Why?

At best: the entire movie is in Cecilia’s mind. At worst? We all just rooted for the real baddie as she walked into the night to do it all again. It is just a theory, mind. And for every point I raise, there must be countless arguments to the contrary, seeing the movie simply ‘as is’.

But there are enough windows of ambiguity to make the case. In any event, all will be revealed perhaps when we ‘see’ THE INVISIBLE WOMAN..now in pre-production. I look forward to its release!



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