THE INVISIBLE MAN. (2020) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE INVISIBLE MAN. (2020) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY LEIGH WHANNELL. BASED ON THE BOOK OF THE SAME NAME BY H.G. WELLS.
STARRING ELISABETH MOSS, OLIVER JACKSON-COHEN, MICHAEL DORMAN, ALDIS HODGE, STORM REID AND HARRIET DYER.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I absolutely loved this sort of modern re-boot of THE INVISIBLE MAN, the film(s) based on H.G. Wells’ classic novel. It totally reminded me of my favourite Julia Roberts’ film, SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY, in which the toothsome one plays a battered wife escaping from her husband’s magnificent but soulless beach house and faking her own death at the same time, so he won’t be able to track her down.

I love that scene when she pitter-patters soaking wet through the empty, darkened beach house on the night of her own ‘death,’ grabbing the emergency bag of clothes and money she’s had ready for God knows how long, chopping her long hair shorter and disposing of her wedding ring in the toilet. Here it sits silently as a damning clue to her actions until the husband, chillingly played by Irish actor Patrick Bergin, finds it some time later and draws his own devastating conclusions…

In THE INVISIBLE MAN, Elisabeth Moss, an actress I’m not familiar with, does a phenomenal job as battered wife Cecilia Kass, an architect and a perfectly decent person in her own right. But her utter scumbag of a scientist husband, Adrian Griffin, has reduced her to a mere shadow of her former self with his violence and controlling ways. So, when the movie opens, Cecilia is escaping from the beach house and her sleeping husband, and desperately hoping he’ll stay asleep until she’s far, far away…

Safe in the home of her younger sister Emily’s boyfriend James’s house- he’s positively dreamy, this fella, and a cop as well- Cecilia hasn’t even really begun to pick up the pieces of her shattered life when she receives a bombshell from Emily in the form of a piece of almost unbelievable news… the news that abusive hubby Adrian has seemingly taken his own life…

That’s all well and good, but, if Adrian is dead, why does Cecilia feel like she’s being stalked by him? Little things are happening that no-one else would really take seriously, but that Cecilia knows are signs that Adrian is back in her life again. But how? He’s dead, innit, and, not only that, but he certainly doesn’t have powers of invisibility that would permit him to shadow his terrified wife without being seen, or does he…?

You can’t blame James and Emily for thinking that poor CeeCee has a screw loose. Dead people don’t suddenly rise from the dead and stalk their bereaved and grieving loved ones under cover of a cloak of invisibility.

But they’ve reckoned without Adrian’s expertise in the field of optics, his passion for making himself invisible one day and his overwhelming need to dominate and control what’s his… and that very definitely includes his wife, Cecilia…

There are a few loopholes in the film, such as, who’s been feeding Zeus the dog if the beach house has been empty all this time? Or has Adrian been staying there on the sly the whole time and feeding his pet? Fear not, folks!

On a recent Zoom call with the actor who plays Zeus the dog, I was reliably informed that the local eateries and take-out emporia kept him well supplied with tasty nosh during filming, on condition, of course, that he mentioned their names wherever possible. Yum Thai, Yum Thai, Yum Thai, Yum Thai, Yum Thai, etc. Woof woof…!

You might recognise Oliver Jackson-Cohen, the actor who plays Adrian the jerky husband, as having also played a jerk in two terrific Netflix spooky series of recent times, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE and THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR. Clearly, he’s not going to be called upon to play Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela any time soon. Only cocky young jerks, lol. He’s scarily good at portraying an abuser.

The theme of domestic abuse (sexual abuse and control feature here also) is incredibly timely as, everywhere we look today, men’s violence against women and control over them is being called out, even in cases where the abuser is rich and famous, which is immensely heartening to see.

In days gone by, we would have expected to see people like Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell get away with their crimes, but no more. Hopefully this is the way things will stay. They were the other way for far too long.

By the way, the film is written and directed by Leigh Whannell of INSIDIOUS and SAW fame, which I love, though there’s no sign of his usual film-making partner, James Wan. Were they on a break, like Ross and Rachel? Were they sick of being always mentioned in the same breath, like Bonnie & Clyde, or Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid? If you asked Leigh Whannell where’s his sidekick James Wan, would he mutter, Father Damo-style, he’s not the boss of me…? Or is this just a coincidence? Probably, to be honest, lol.

Cecilia’s NIKE trainers are in full view for most of the film, by the way, so I guess she must really dig those trainers, lol. Well, what else could it mean? I’m off now, anyway, to filch some grub from somewhere. For some reason, I’m pining for a huge feast of Yum Thai. Wonder if we have a menu anywhere…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA: THE HAMMER VERSION. (1962) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Phantom of the Opera Lom

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (1962) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION. A UNIVERSAL INTERNATIONAL RELEASE. BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY GASTON LEROUX IN HIS NOVEL OF THE SAME NAME.

STARRING HERBERT LOM, MICHAEL GOUGH, THORLEY WALTERS, EDWARD DE SOUZA AND HEATHER SEARS. FEATURING MICHAEL RIPPER AND MILES MALLESON AS CABBIES AND PATRICK TROUGHTON AS THE RAT-CATCHER!

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This fantastic Hammer Horror has as its central character one of the greatest horror icons of all time, Gaston LeRoux’s Phantom Of The Opera, a chap made immortal by Lon Chaney’s stunning silent movie performance of same in 1925. Lon Chaney’s Phantom will always be the best, but Claude Rains turned in a great performance too in the 1943 movie and so does Herbert Lom in this version we’re discussing today.

So, we’ve got a gorgeous London theatre (sorry but it’s not a patch on the Paris Opera House, sorry sorry sorry, lol) in which Michael Gough’s Lord Ambrose D’Arcy is about to stage for le premier fois an opera about Joan of Arc he’s written himself (ahem!). More about this scurrilous lie later on.

Lord Ambrose is the meanest villain you’ve ever seen. He’s rude, haughty, proud and arrogant already because he’s aristocracy, although aristocratic is as aristocratic does, surely? He’s a diva-like little uppity snob, this fella. And as for his behaviour on the casting couch, well! He makes some of today’s disgraced ‘celebrities’ look like amateurs and also-rans…

He engages as his Joan a pretty and immensely talented chorus singer called Christine Charles. He takes her out to dinner as part of the deal and tries to entice her home to his apartment afterwards so that she can show him exactly how ‘grateful’ she is for his having given her the job. The dastardly devil!

Christine, however, has the common sense and good morals to be repulsed by the Lord’s odious intentions. She turns for help to Lord Ambroses’s detested producer, the much younger and handsomer Harry Hunter, played by the darkly delicious Edward de Souza (KISS OF THE VAMPIRE). Harry is only too delighted to save Christine’s honour by performing as we say in ze French, le cock-block for the furious Lord Ambrose. Heh-heh-heh. So funny.

Christine gets the sack, unfortunately, for not putting out. You could totally sue for that nowadays. Harry resigns in sympathy with her and these two are an item from now on. Their troubles aren’t over, however. Far from it.

‘There’s something evil in this theatre,’ as an astute Harry observes. Someone has committed ‘suicide’ there during a performance and there have been odd little things happening that have led the theatre staff to think that the place is haunted. The deserted Box Five is the place from which You-Know-Who watches the performances. His beloved music continues to be his life.

And certainly, Christine has been spoken to in her dressing-room by a disembodied male voice, cultured and authoritative, who seems to want to turn her into the greatest singer the world has ever known. Well, that’s not to be sniffed at, I daresay.

I must say that I thoroughly approve of the Phantom’s musical Boot-Camp, which comes later on in the film. If I’d had someone to slap me about, shout abuse at me and throw water in my face every time I looked to be putting down my pen, I might have gotten more writing done in my lifetime, lol. Some people would pay good money for that kind of encouragement. It’s worth its weight in gold, truly.

When we learn of the tragic Professor Petrie’s story, it really is perfectly obvious that Lord Ambrose D’Arcy is a thief, a bully, a scoundrel and a villain of the highest order. How dare he do what he does to Professor Petrie, a musical genius and an honest if impoverished man of morals? A come-uppance is sorely needed here for the evil Lord Ambrose.

The performance of Joan is so moving I was in tears at the end of it. I was also thinking of two things during it. Firstly, did Heather Sears really have to cut her lovely long hair in order to give her that sleek, utterly boyish cap she sports at the end of the performance? That would have been a shame, because her crowning glory is so gorgeous.

Secondly, I was thinking of THE SIMPSONS. In one of their historical anthology episodes, Lisa Simpson plays the martyr Joan of Arc and, in one scene, when she’s sitting down, the voice of God calls out and says: ‘Joan, give me your dessert!’ and you just see this chocolate eclair ascending into Heaven in a ray of heavenly light accompanied by celestial music. Sweet.

The scene in Joan where she’s being ‘tried’ for heresy by a court full of men makes me so freaking angry. They sentence her to burn at the stake because she refuses to say that she no longer believes in what she believes in, that in fact she now believes what they believe.

The timing of me re-watching this film is kind of funny because yesterday, October 26th 2018, the Irish people (those that could be bothered, that is, because a lot of us apparently didn’t) went to the polls to decide whether or not they want blasphemy to no longer be a crime. As in, you can no longer be charged with blasphemy if you say something that someone else doesn’t agree with, or say something derogatory about God.

I don’t know if that many people were ever charged with blasphemy here in Ireland, but it’s probably just as well to do away with such an out-moded concept. When you think of all the women- and men- in Joan’s day who were tortured and/or executed in horrific ways for saying or believing things the Church didn’t agree with, well, it’d make your blood run cold.

The Salem Witch Trials are another terrible example of such ridiculous fears and intolerances taking hold of a community and rampaging through it like wildfire. Anyway, the lovely Christine Charles’s Joan is an absolute triumph. If you don’t sob like a baby when she’s going up those stairs towards the flames, well then, you must have a heart of stone, lol. Enjoy le film. It’s another marvellous triumph for Hammer Horror.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor