Fear the Invisible Man (2023) poster

Fear the Invisible Man (2023)

Rating:


UK. 2023.

Crew

Director – Paul Dudbridge, Screenplay – Philip Daay, Story – Helena Gergelova & Monika Gergelova, Based on the Novel The Invisible Man (1897) by H.G. Wells, Producers – Paul Dudbridge, Monika Gergelova, Michael Riley & Malcolm Winter, Photography – Alex Metcalfe, Music – Alexander Arntzen, Visual Effects Supervisor – Alan Tabrett, Production Design – Jamie Foote. Production Company – 101 Films/M&M Film Productions/Red Rock Entertainment/Sterling/Loud Whistle Productions/Hanover Pictures.

Cast

Mhairi Calvey (Adeline Kemp), Mike Beckingham (Cade Griffin), Wayne Gordon (Colonel Adye), Grahame Fox (Thomas Marvel), Demelza O’Sullivan (Margaret), Marc Danbury (Sturges), David Hayman (Marshal Wicksteed), Emily Haigh (Evie)


Plot

Port Burdock, 1897. Adeline Kemp struggles to hold together finances on the large estate she has inherited after her husband’s death. She is unexpectedly visited by Cade Griffin, whom she and her husband both knew as students. Griffin has created a serum that has made him invisible. He has been wounded and begs her help. As he recovers, Griffin asks her aid in retrieving the books containing his research notes that have been stolen by the tramp Thomas Marvel. At the same time, Adeline sees that Griffin is becoming mentally unstable and megalomaniacal due to the effects of the serum. She then discovers that Griffin is stealing money from the bank to aid her and killing others to get his books back.


Fear the Invisible Man is an adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel The Invisible Man (1897). In fact, it is a more faithful adaptation than Leigh Whannell’s recent The Invisible Man (2020), where the similarity to the Wells novel never went beyond the title character and their condition. The Wells novel had previously been adapted as James Whale’s droll The Invisible Man (1933) and the BBC mini-series The Invisible Man (1984), while there are several other works, mostly tv series, that use the name of the book only and concern entirely different invisible men.

On the other hand, while Fear the Invisible Man holds faith to Wells in many regards and uses characters and incidents from the book, it is also an adaptation of Wells that has been mixed up somewhat. Apart from a brief prologue where the tramp Thomas Marvel is attacked at the inn, the film proper begins in what is Chapter 17 (out of a total of 28) in the book where Griffin seeks refuge with his old university colleague Kemp. Dropped have been the preceding chapters were the Invisible Man takes a room at an inn in the village of Iping and is pursued by the townspeople after revealing his invisibility.

This shifting focus does force a number of changes. Now the character of Kemp is made into the central point-of-view character of the story – the purpose for this seems to be the modern mandate to highlight strong woman characters (Kemp is male in the novel). Another of these is that the film’s Griffin is not a fugitive from the law at the outset and seems a more decent character, where his madness and ruthlessness (robbery, murder) only starts to emerge midway through the film.

Mike Beckingham as Cade Griffin in Fear the Invisible Man (2023)
Mike Beckingham as Cade Griffin, The Invisible Man
Mhairi Calvey and Griffin in Fear the Invisible Man (2023)
Mhairi Calvey and the invisible Griffin

All of the middle sections of the novel, in particular Griffin’s taking refuge with Kemp, are expanded in the film, while Marvel goes from a minor character who appears in only a couple of chapters and his theft of the notebooks is pumped up into a plot device that serves to drive Griffin’s actions throughout the film. Colonel Adye is expanded from being another minor character into an investigating detective nemesis who takes much of the film’s running time to work out what is going on.

Director Paul Dudbridge’s mood is slow and sombre. The use of visual effects are sparse but modestly effective – this is not a big flashy effects-driven film. The film has a sense of period detail that, even though Fear the Invisible Man has a low-budget, cannot be faulted.

Fear the Invisible Man was the first full-length film for Paul Dudbridge, who had previously co-directed the SF tv series Horizon (2015-7). Dudbridge went on to do similar things to this with another classic genre work with his reworking of Mary Shelley into Frankenstein Diaries (2024). He has also acted as a producer on the horror film The Curse of Hobbes House (2020).


Trailer here


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