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Film / The Invisible Man (2020)

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Not pictured: The Invisible Man.
Cecilia: He has figured out a way to be invisible.
Tom: The only thing more brilliant than inventing something that makes you invisible, is coming up with the perfect way to torture you, even in death. Adrian’s true genius was how he got in people’s heads.

The Invisible Man is a 2020 sci-fi horror film written and directed by Leigh Whannell (Saw, Upgrade), based on the novel of the same name by H.G. Wells. It is the second film adaptation of the source material following James Whale's 1933 version starring Claude Rains in the title role. note 

Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) is attempting to move on with her life after the death of her abusive ex, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). After a series of unexplained events, Cecilia comes to believe that Adrian, a brilliant scientist specializing in optics, is not in fact dead, but has discovered a way to turn himself invisible. That said— Adrian has left Cecilia a significant amount of money in his will, but she can only obtain it by proving that she's mentally competent to his estate's executor. Trying to convince the authorities that a supposedly dead man is harassing her through advanced technology is not helping her case.


The film was originally developed as part of the shared "Dark Universe" alongside other upcoming Universal Horror remakes, with Johnny Depp in the title role. After two false starts, Universal announced that it would suspend the plan for the shared universe and instead redevelop each movie as standalone. Leigh Whannell was brought in to direct and write and Blumhouse Productions to produce the film. Instead of a direct remake, the film reimagines the original plot against the backdrop of a domestic abuse story and consequently the titular character now serves as an antagonist. Whannell has stated that the film was not made with any shared universe in mind.

Compare with Paul Verhoeven's 2000 film Hollow Man, which was Inspired by... the same source material but isn't an official adaptation. Not to be confused with Universal's upcoming (and unrelated) remake of The Invisible Woman, directed by and starring Elizabeth Banks.


Previews: Trailer 1, Super Bowl TV spot, Trailer 2.

The Invisible Man contains examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel:
    • The Invisible Man may be, well, invisible but he still has physical presence and will displace anything around him like paint or rain, making it easier to track him. Furthermore unlike in other versions where his invisibility came from ingesting a potion, this Invisible Man relies on an invisibility suit that, whilst advanced, can be damaged and made to glitch out.
    • There's also one other weakness which, while never commented on, is still rather glaring - the suit's cameras make noise whenever they change focus, resulting in an insect-like chittering. In many scenes where the Invisible Man does not take obvious action, this is the only way to tell if he's in the scene.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • The original novel referred to the main character solely as "Griffin" with the original movie adding the first name Jack. Here his name has been changed again to Adrian Griffin.
    • In the 1933 film's sequel The Invisible Man Returns, Griffin's brother is named Frank. Here, he is named Tom (a reference to the character Thomas Marvel, Griffin's assistant, from the original novel.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Zig-zagged. While the Griffin of the original movie is portrayed sympathetically, his book counterpart is a villain protagonist who used his condition for thievery and slowly lost his mind when he was unable to become visible again. This incarnation of him has Griffin as an outright antagonist being an unrepentant, abusive sociopath. To put it another way, in the book Griffin was a jerkass gone bad; in the film, he’s a bad man gone worse!
  • Adult Fear: When you pare away the sci-fi/horror elements, the movie is about a woman terrified of her violent ex finding her. Some of the gaslighting, such as sending e-mails to her sister, is a traditional tactic to isolate people from their allies.
  • Antagonist Title: This is the first time the Invisible Man is the outright bad guy, not even a little bit sympathetic.
  • Arc Words: "Surprise." Used by Adrian to taunt Cecilia throughout the film, later said by Cecilia as she kills Adrian.
  • Artistic License – Biology: In order for Adrian's suit to work, it must cover him completely. Any person covered completely by such a suit would likely have a heat stroke and die within minutes of putting it on, as the body's main way to release excess heat is through the skin. This could be solved by a liquid cooling setup with an external radiator such as the kind used in spacesuits, but there's no indication Adrian is wearing anything like that. In addition, such a circulation system would have a pump and fan that both make noise, giving away his presence. Furthermore, this raises the question of when and where he's finding the time to eat, drink, and take care of his personal hygiene. After several days of sweating inside that suit and not showering, his smell alone would be overpowering.
  • Artistic License – Pharmacology: Cecilia passes out at a job interview from a high dose of diazepam (Valium). But if she had that much drug in her system she likely wouldn’t have been able to walk into that interview, at least not in a straight line.
  • Asshole Victim: It's kept vague exactly who was responsible for the whole ordeal. Tom got the Dramatic Unmasking as the stalker and Adrian was found chained up in a basement, but Cecilia is certain this was All According to Plan for Adrian who set Tom up for the fall. As such, Tom may have just been a pawn for Adrian, and Adrian is killed by Cecilia using the second suit to make it appear to be suicide.
  • Ax-Crazy: Per canon, once Adrian kills for the first time, he becomes a lot more bloodthirsty, though he was already unhinged before.
  • The Baby Trap: Rare Male Example: Cecilia knew Adrian wanted a baby and secretly took birth control to prevent this, because she knew she could never leave him if they had a child. However, Adrian secretly swapped out her birth control for something else, and tries to use their unborn child as leverage against her.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Adrian and Cecilia's dog is shown to have a shock collar. The tendencies of the former don't leave much room for discussion as to how that came to be.
  • Bastard Boyfriend: Cecilia is a victim of domestic abuse from Adrian. As it turns out, Adrian is so hellbent on keeping Cecilia because he realizes she's pregnant with his child and that he needs her more than she needs him.
  • Batman Gambit: Bordering on Thanatos Gambit. With the realization she's pregnant with Adrian's child and that he wants her alive to have it, Cecilia stages a suicide to get the Invisible Man to reveal himself. If he doesn't, she denies Adrian his child as a final act of spite. Fortunately for her, Adrian shows himself to thwart the attempt, which leads to his downfall.
  • Big Bad: The Invisible Man, in case the title wasn't obvious. Adrian Griffin fakes his death and wears a suit that renders the user invisible to torment Cecilia as revenge for leaving him.
  • Big Brother Bully: It's debatable how much of it is actually true, but Tom claims Adrian controlled him as much as he did Cecilia. Even after he's revealed to have been working with Adrian, Adrian has no problem throwing him under the bus when he gets himself killed.
  • Big Fancy House: Adrian has a coastside half-lab, half-luxury home complex.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: We're initially led to believe Tom is just as much a victim of Adrian's domineering personality as Cecilia, with him even saying he was relieved to hear his brother had killed himself. However, he turns out to be working with Adrian to gaslight and torture Cecilia into getting back together with him. Cecilia even calls him on it, saying he's just as manipulative as Adrian, only without a spine.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Cecilia finally, truly frees herself from Adrian's control and gets her revenge for all he's done to her and the people she loves — but Emily is still dead and no one other than Cecilia and James will ever know what really happened; plus James silently realizes that he's an accessory to murder and lawless vigilantism, and their friendship is likely damaged. Cecilia's also hardened from the utter hell she's been put through, including having been forced to resort to killing both Tom and Adrian.
  • Book-Ends:
    • The film begins with Cecilia retrieving a duffel bag full of clothes from a hiding place and escaping from the house that she 'shares' with Adrian, fleeing into the night to escape his control. It ends with her returning to the house to win back control from Adrian, and killing him with the help of the invisibility suit she concealed in her original hiding place.
    • The plot starts with Adrian killing himself which is later revealed to be a lie, because he is still alive. It ends with Adrian killing himself, which is also a lie, because that's what Cecilia wants everyone to believe when in fact she murders him.
  • Broad Strokes: Elements from the book and previous film adaptations are repurposed here. While Griffin's murderous terror is in line with the book and 1933 film, the plot where Cecilia has to prove her innocence regarding her sister's murder is obviously inspired by the plot of the second film, The Invisible Man Returns. Though unlike Geoffrey Radcliffe, she doesn't become invisible until near the end.
  • Canon Foreigner: Basically everyone except Griffin, and even he shares only a few traits with his book equivalent.
  • Cassandra Truth: Cecilia realizes pretty early on that Adrian is somehow still alive and stalking her, but neither her sister or her best friend believe her. It doesn't help that Adrian is deliberately stacking the deck against Cecilia to make it seem like she's just having a nervous breakdown.
  • Central Theme: The difficulty of leaving an abusive relationship and how your abuser will stay in your life even if you are successful.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • When she escapes in the middle of the night at the start of the film, Cecilia retrieves a duffel bag she's hidden in a vent in the wardrobe closet. Since Adrian never found it, she uses it again later to store the second suit she found in his lab.
    • Also, during the escape, Cecilia drops a bottle of Diazepam that she used to drug Adrian. Adrian uses this to drug her so that she faints during a job interview. Afterwards, she finds the bottle in the bathroom with a bloody thumbprint as a Calling Card.
    • Cecilia is unable to retrieve the second suit as proof of her claims, so it remains at the house. At the end of the film, she uses it to kill Adrian.
    • Various objects in James’ house are quietly introduced in early scenes and brought back for pivotal scenes, including the ladder (used by Cecilia to climb into the attic and find Adrian's "lair"), paint cans (spilled on Adrian to reveal him for the first time), and the fire extinguisher and pepper spray (the former is used to expose Tom in the house attack and the latter is used to serve as a distraction and help Sydney get a head-start in her escape).
    • Cecilia makes her escape from the home by using Adrian’s passwords for the home security system, as being lovers the likelihood of that is plausible. Adrian later uses Cecilia's e-mail account to send hurtful messages to Emily, likely because of the same thing.
  • Child by Rape: Cecilia conceived a child because Adrian tampered with her "secret" birth control.
  • Clear My Name: The second half of the film partly deals with this, after Cecilia is falsely accused of murdering her sister Emily in public.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Adrian's suits appear to give the wearer a degree of superhuman strength, enough to effortlessly toss people across rooms or forcibly move their bodies against their will. However, it's worth noting that the opening shows that Adrian is strong enough to easily smash a car window and he's clearly in very good physical shape.
  • Consummate Liar: Adrian is a master of dishonesty, as you'd expect from someone so abusive. He even has the gall to claim his weak-willed brother Tom was the one in charge of their criminal partnership and that he was just an accomplice, when in truth it was almost exactly the other way around.
  • Contraception Deception: Cecelia confesses that she had been secretly taking birth control pills without telling her husband Adrian, because she knew if they had a child, then she would never be able to leave him. However, Adrian's brother Tom tells her that Adrian found out about her deception and swapped her birth control pills for "something else". Late in the film, Cecelia learns that she is pregnant.
  • Control Freak: Adrian was always incredibly overbearing and dominating in his relationship with Cecilia, controlling how she talked, what she wore, what she ate, down to how she thought. And if he even had the idea that she wasn't doing or even thinking what he wanted, he was stated to physically beat her "among other things". The main reason Adrian is torturing Cecilia? He can't fathom the idea that someone under his thumb slipped away. Even Tom declares Adrian was always controlling him when they were young, though how much of that is true by the end is debatable.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Leigh Whannell brings back some of the cinematography style from Upgrade during the Curb-Stomp Battle in the hospital.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: At least one reason why nobody believes Cecilia is the simple fact that even if Adrian could design a suit capable of turning him completely invisible, surely nobody could be that evil and petty to use it for the sole purpose of sadistically tormenting one ex-lover? Unfortunately, Evil Is Petty is very much at work here and it’s all further justified as Adrian is a narcissistic sociopath.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The fight between the asylum security guards and Adrian is hideously one-sided, with a group of disoriented and frightened security guards facing off against a physically fit sociopath whose Invisibility Cloak essentially gives him a limited form of Super Strength.
    • Similarly, the fight between James and a cloaked Tom is one-sided in the latter's favor, with Tom almost beating James to death and James & Sydney only being saved by Cecelia's timely intervention.
  • Curse Cut Short: During the first night in which the Invisible Man haunts Cecilia, James starts to call Adrian a "motherfucker," but stops halfway when he realizes that his daughter is sitting right there.
  • Darker and Edgier: Easily the darkest and most violent version of the story to date, which is to be expected per Blumhouse's involvement as co-producers and Leigh Whannel's involvement as director. As a funny bit of historical parallelism, the original film actually had one of the highest body-counts of any horror film, but that was mostly via a single act of mass-murder which didn't involve any onscreen gore.
  • Decomposite Character: There is not one, but two versions of the Invisible Man; Griffin himself and his brother Tom. Cecilia ends up as the third version of the Invisible Man by the end of the film.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: Cecilia starts to slit her wrists while being held in the mental hospital, seemingly to spite Adrian by killing herself and their unborn child. When Adrian stops her, he gives away his position and she starts stabbing him until he manages to throw her off, but not before she's damaged the suit and caused an Invisibility Flicker. Under the circumstances, had she been wrong and he weren't in the room, she'd have gotten one over on him anyway.
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: Cecilia secretly took birth control, which is why she is so shocked when she learns that she is pregnant. Tom later asks if she really believed Adrian wouldn't find out and tamper with it.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Downplayed. Adrian's invisibility is the result of a suit outfitted with hundreds of cameras as opposed to a potion, playing down the Sci-Fi elements of the story. However, the capabilities of the suit are still extraordinary and beyond modern technology, meaning that this is clearly still a Sci-Fi film.
  • The Dragon: Tom Griffin, Adrian's brother, is in on the plot and is the one wearing the suit when targeting James and Sydney. Though the cops think it was always him in the suit, Cecilia is sure he was only in the suit this one time to serve as a fall guy for his brother.
  • Dramatic Unmask: The reveal that Tom was the Invisible Man. Although, as Cecilia quickly puts together, that doesn't mean Adrian can't also have been invisible, since there is more than one suit.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Cecelia's meticulously planned escape from Adrian's house shows her to be a clever and determined strategist who can engage in the Indy Ploy when necessary. Furthermore, her almost botching her plan so as to take the shock collar off of Adrian's dog Zeus highlights her more empathetic side.
    • Adrian gets his shortly thereafter; Not only does his ridiculously intricate security system showcase his obsessive Control Freak personality, but him breaking Emily's car window to try and take Cecilia back after having chased her both across a field and through a forest is pretty much the only indicator the audience needs to see how much of a Bastard Boyfriend Determinator he is.
  • Evil Counterpart: Tom to Cecilia. Like Cecilia, Tom claims to have been abused and controlled by Adrian. Adrian's dominance over them both remains after his "death". Except that where Cecilia believes she is weak, Tom is actually spineless enough to be complicit in Adrian's crimes to the point that Tom wears the invisible suit himself to act as a decoy and fall guy.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Zeus the dog is able to detect the Invisible Man when he enters the house and barks madly at him.
  • Evil Is Petty: Adrian's sheer sadistic pettiness is breathtaking. For all the power his invisible suit could give him, he only uses it to relentlessly torment Cecilia. Some of his early behaviour, such as removing Cecilia's papers from her briefcase before a job interview, exemplifies the Mundane Utility such power can have. Given how much of a control freak he is, the pettiness is justified - he's utterly obsessed with getting back at the woman who defied him. If he killed her or felt he had her sufficiently "under control", he probably would have become significantly less petty.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: The Invisible Man's suit gives off this look, as it has a zillion different cameras all over it.
  • Face Cam: While it had more shine in Whannell's previous work, it's utilized here for exactly one shot to illustrate Cecilia's diazepam-induced disorientation at a job interview moments before passing out.
  • The Faceless: We never get a good look at Adrian's face until the very end of the movie. Even the opening scene, in which he is completely visible, has him mostly out of focus.
  • Faking the Dead: After Cecilia escaped from him, Adrian apparently committed suicide. Despite evidence proving otherwise (a photo of his corpse and his cremated ashes), Cecilia believes that Adrian is still alive, especially after discovering that he has a machine that can turn people invisible. Sure enough, he is very much alive. It's never revealed how he so successfully faked his death, unless he somehow kept anyone from examining his body.
  • Fall Guy: Tom. After Cecilia kills him, Adrian claims his brother held him prisoner, faked his death and committed all of The Invisible Man’s crimes on his own. Cecilia, naturally, refuses to believe it.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing:
    • When the Invisible Man attacks James and Sydney, his suit, which was previously flickering between invisible and visible after Cecilia stabbed him with a pen, doesn't malfunction. It's the final sign that it's not Adrian in the suit and really Tom having taken his place. Presumably it's a different suit.
    • From the same moment as above, Sydney is wearing a shirt with a picture of a jellyfish on it. This ties in to Cecilia's earlier description of Tom as a "jellyfish" and foreshadows the fact that her attacker is Tom, and not Adrian.
    • In the aforementioned prison scene, Tom makes note of Cecilia making a bank account for a friend, which is information he could not have possibly have known unless he was getting fed information from someone spying on her. He reveals his and Adrian's true motives just a few minutes later.
      • In the same scene, there's a poster with two figures standing back to back, one being broken up and fading, with the caption "YOU DON'T HAVE TO FACE YOURSELF ALONE" right behind Tom, indicating that he's working with Adrian and further foreshadows him donning an invisible suit later.
  • Foil: Cecilia and Adrian, obviously and this is even reflected in their occupations. Adrian is an tech entrepreneur obsessed with optic technology and cameras and has little respect for anyone's privacy, using cameras to track Cecilia's moves at his home and later dons a suit made up of tiny cameras to hide and continue to monitor Cecilia. Cecilia is a budding architect, a job that focuses on construction and designing enclosed buildings that look good on the outside, highlighting her need to put up barriers and keep people out.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Cecilia is making her escape, she goes to Adrian's lab to disable the security system. In the background, there's a series of black suits and when she look in a seemingly empty room, she hears an ominous insect-like clicking.
    • After escaping, Cecilia reads an article about how hackers can get into your webcam to spy on you, which is a real cybersecurity threat, and she then uses a marker on her laptop's webcam. Adrian himself is a pioneer in optics technology and has hundreds of cameras in his home. Adrian's invisibility is actually accomplished by a suit made up of hundreds of tiny cameras.
    • Cecilia gets the letter for Adrian's will reading at James's house, a location that no one knows that she's staying at. Which further highlights Adrian's fake-suicide plan as a drastic method to flush out Cecilia's hiding place - he most likely was tracking Emily when she went to James's house to break the suicide news to Cecilia, which makes the scene more tragically ironic as Cecilia told Emily specifically not to visit her as Adrian could be watching.
    • When Cecilia finds the phone in the attic with the text message "SURPRISE" on it, it has a mosaic background that looks just like the suit Adrian wears.
    • Cecilia, in her second meeting with Tom, calls him a jellyfish, "like (his) brother but without the spine". Jellyfish are see-through. Tom is later revealed to be a second invisible man.
    • An even bigger example is when Cecilia escapes from James' house, and takes an Uber to Adrian's house. Although they aren't followed by another car, and there's no clear way that anyone in the suit could have gotten in the Uber without either Cecilia or the driver knowing about it, somehow, there's already someone in the suit at the house when Cecilia gets there - something which would only be possible if there were two invisible men, one at James' and one at Adrian's.
    • Adrian deliberately leaves several witnesses alive at the asylum and doesn't kill Cecilia despite having ample opportunities to, which shows that his ultimate plan was always to frame his brother for everything and force Cecilia to go back to him.
    • Zeus the dog barking madly at some invisible entity could be a tip-off that it's Tom, not Adrian attacking Cecilia. As Tom would be more of an intruder or stranger than Adrian.
      • Since the film ends with Cecilia using the suit she hid during the above incident to kill Adrian, it's highly likely that it was Tom that time; it would be very strange for Adrian not to realize that Cecilia had found and hidden the third suit, whereas the less competent Tom might. It's also easier to imagine the spineless Tom being intimidated by the dog and letting Cecilia get away, while Adrian has no qualms about fighting even while partially visible and clearly has no qualms about hurting a dog he fitted with a shock collar.
      • There’s a sinister footnote to that: Cecilia made the plans to meet Emily in a public place after her escape from Adrian’s house, something Invisible!Tom could not have overheard and even if he did, he couldn’t catch up with her to do anything. Meaning Adrian was most likely watching Emily that entire time, lying in wait for Cecilia to contact her and for him to make his move.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Some of the film's advertising invokes this trope. In particular, an "Invisible Man action figure" sent to the press had in the attached card "SURPRISE I'M RIGHT BEHIND YOU" in invisible ink.
  • Frame-Up: Cecilia is only entitled to the inheritance in Adrian's will if she isn't charged with any crimes. Adrian uses his invisibility suit to frame her for a crime, thereby making her ineligible for the will and putting her in a position where she'll need him to regain her freedom.
  • Gaslighting: A central theme of the film is to show how horrific this behaviour can be, especially since it can and does occur in abusive relationships without any Sci-Fi invisibility suits required. Characteristic of an abusive lover, Adrian manipulates tiny, inconsequential things in Cecilia's life after becoming invisible to slowly make herself and those around her (as well as, to an extent, the viewer) doubt themselves until Cecilia is all but driven insane. All of this to drive Cecilia back into his arms. Although in a variation on the standard definition, he seems more interested in making her look crazy to everyone else than in convincing her she's crazy. There's even some fun wordplay involved; while he's invisible, Adrian manipulates Cecilia with gas (by heating a pan of bacon on the stove until it bursts into flames) and light (by turning the lights on and off).
    • The likely reasoning for making others think Cecilia is crazy rather than have her thinking she's the one going crazy is so that once everyone else distances themselves from her, she'll be isolated, and will have no choice but to go back to Adrian, who'll be awaiting her return with open arms.
  • Gender Flip: Though her status as Griffin's lover is directly taken from the 1933 film's Flora Cranley, Cecilia technically fills the role of the book's Hero Antagonist, Dr. Kemp, a former associate of Griffin who later becomes his mortal enemy.
  • Genre Savvy: Cecilia is impressively quick to figure out the classic ways of detecting an invisible person, including spreading fine powder (in this case, coffee grounds) over the floor and using a can of paint and a fire extinguisher to coat him in a visible substance. Adrian also knows how to avoid detection, by washing off the paint Cecilia douses him in, or taking shelter under an SUV's tailgate when it's raining so that he doesn't get hit by raindrops that would reveal his presence.
  • Good Parents: In every scene we see of them together, James is a caring, fun-loving dad to Sydney.
  • Hate Sink: Both of the Griffin brothers are downright scumbags.
    • Adrian is Cecilia's sociopathic ex-boyfriend who controlled every aspect of her life. Creating an invisibility suit, Adrian ruthlessly gaslights Cecilia, and even murders her sister to incriminate her for the crime. He also thinks nothing of striking Sydney, and attempts to have her killed just to "send a message" to Cecelia.
    • Tom is Adrian's weak-willed brother who assists his brother in destroying Cecilia's life to force her to come back to him. While not as vile as his brother, Tom nevertheless remorselessly tries to kill Sydney and James showing, as Cecilia attested to, his utter lack of a backbone.
  • Hell Is That Noise: In certain scenes, an insectoid chittering noise can be heard, with absolutely no obvious source. It's the cameras in Adrian's suit adjusting to mimic their surroundings. Notably, it is the only way to tell if the Invisible Man is in an area if he doesn't do anything.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: As part of Cecilia's Establishing Character Moment, she encounters Adrian's dog Zeus on the way out of the house and nearly sabotages her carefully planned escape attempt by going back to remove Zeus's cruel shock collar.
  • Hope Spot: Even though she is still bitter about the hateful email that Cecilia supposedly sent, Emily seems willing to hear her sister's story about Adrian stalking her when the two meet after the latter's visit to Adrian's house. Before Cecilia even starts explaining, Adrian slashes Emily's throat with a knife and places it in Cecilia's hands. She is promptly arrested and put in a mental asylum.
  • Hypocrite: Tom accuses Emily and Cecilia of being greedy and only interested in Adrian's fortune once he appears to be dead. It's more the opposite; Cecilia and Emily want nothing more than for Adrian to be out of their lives, while Tom is dependent on Adrian's wealth to keep him afloat and is a cowardly pawn in his schemes for that reason.
  • In Name Only: It's officially an adaptation of H.G. Wells's novel, but has nothing to do with it aside from the idea of a man turning himself invisible. Still a well-regarded film, unlike most other examples of this.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Adrian's invisibility suit as opposed to a serum, which it accomplishes through a lattice of tiny projectors/cameras that seamlessly project an image of what's on the opposite side.
  • Invisibility Flicker: Primarily averted and this helps add to the horror of the film since the audience is struggling to figure out where Adrian is just as much as Cecelia is. However, it's temporarily played straight in a few instances.
    • The first occurrence is after Cecelia damages Adrian's suit when he tries to stop her suicide attempt at the asylum. Notably, it actually plays to his advantage, with his flickering in and out of reality continually confusing the security guards and making it easier for him to pick them off.
    • Later in the movie during the primary confrontation, Tom is shot multiple times in the chest. The suit flickers a few times, struggling to function after a few bullet holes are placed in it. And naturally, Tom's in pretty bad shape after being shot in the chest, too.
  • Ironic Echo: Cecilia’s last word to Adrian after she slits his throat is “Surprise.”
  • Irony:
    • When she meets Adrian at the end, Cecilia tries to make him divulge the truth by telling him that they have to start not lying to each other. He continues to lie, so she kills him while making it look like he committed suicide. In other words, lying.
    • On a related note, the plot began when Adrian faked his suicide so he would be free to stalk Cecilia discreetly. In the end, Cecilia kills him, but thanks to her planning, his death will be appear to be a suicide.
  • Karmic Death: Cecilia slashes Adrian’s throat while wearing his invisibility suit, just like how he killed Emily and then framed Cecilia for her murder.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: In the ending, Cecilia makes James promise not to reveal the truth about Adrian's death. It's made very clear that he does not want to do it, but he is torn about siding or not siding with her, since he is still guilty of not believing her claim about Adrian stalking her previously. Ultimately, he just lets it go, accepting that this was the closest thing to justice Adrian was going to get, but their friendship is likely damaged in the process.
  • Let Off by the Detective: James clearly knows Cecilia murdered Adrian at the end. He lets her go, however, realizing this was the only way to stop him. Since he and his daughter were also nearly murdered by Adrian's accomplice, he's got personal motive to overlook the act as well.
  • Logical Weakness:
    • An invisible man is not immune to physics. He still displaces water and other liquids, meaning he's still somewhat (keyword being somewhat) visible in rain and can be pushed around. And while he can still pull off the illusion if he's in an open space, he's unable to hide when Cecilia catches him in her hospital shower, as the space is too enclosed for him to maneuver.
    • There's also one other issue with his suit: it uses cameras to make him invisible - cameras that constantly need to refocus. Said cameras are surprisingly noisy, and while it's never mentioned in the film, they can be heard adjusting in many scenes.
  • Machine Monotone: While we only briefly hear it in one scene, Adrian's invisible suit gives him a disturbing roboticized voice.
  • Mad Scientist: Adrian is an expert in optical technology and invented a suit which makes the user invisible, which he uses to torment his ex.
  • Made of Iron: Adrian is strong enough to break a car window with his bare fist, and when invisible he is beaten but just keeps going.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Adrian Griffin, to a T. He does have a pathological need to be in control over everyone and everything close to him, but what really makes him this trope is how he uses that control to make everything go right according to his evil plan, in true chessmaster fashion, with no regards paid to how many lives he ruins and people he kills in the process.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Cecilia means "blind" in Latin. Appropriately, she cannot see the Invisible Man.
    • Adding to the above: she is frequently called 'C' in the film, which, obviously, is pronounced like 'see.'
    • James shares his first name with the director of the original film.
  • Meta Twist: Several shots are designed to make you think Adrian is going to be revealed lurking in an empty space that’s receiving an odd amount of focus or wide shots with a lot of negative space. Sometimes it does, other times it doesn't, meaning you can never be completely sure where he is.
  • Missing Mom: James appears to be a single father for Sydney, as her mother is never seen or mentioned.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: A prominent clip from the trailer shows Cecilia showering when a handprint suddenly appears on the glass door. She does take a shower, but the handprint does not appear in the film.
  • Mood Motif: As to be expected in a suspense thriller, both "Psycho" Strings and Strings of Suspense are threaded through the theme music.
  • Mythology Gag: There are a few nods to the more well-known appearances of the Invisible Man in media, including a scene where it appears that a figure is standing over Cecilia and Sydney's bed in a hat, scarf and trench coat (it turns out to be one of Sydney's fashion dummies), and later, a patient is shown in the mental hospital covered head-to-toe in bandages.
  • Never My Fault: When Griffin tells Cecilia he plans on killing Sydney, her friend's child, he flat out tells her it'll be Cecilia's fault, not his, since he'll only do it because of her disobedience.
  • Never Suicide: In the ending, Cecilia murders Adrian while staging the scene so everyone except for James will think that he just killed himself. Just like how he tried the tactic to gaslight her before.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: While fleeing the house in the dead of night, Cecilia removes their dog's shock collar, only for the dog to bump into the car and trigger its alarm, waking up Adrian. Despite this, she does still manage to escape.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted. There is indeed a backup, as Cecilia finds a second invisibility suit in Adrian's lab. She uses it to kill Adrian by hiding the suit in the one spot where Adrian didn't know about. And given the fact that Tom's is never shown glitching when Cecilia had earlier stab the Invisible Man with a pen, it's likely he had a third suit.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Pretty much one of the straightest examples, as it's implied that in every scene before the reveal Griffin is lurking right in the frame or off camera observing the characters or just biding his time. In fact, the more the invisibility trick is revealed a subtle clicking noise becomes more prominent.
  • The Oner:
    • Cecilia's escape from the mental hospital, from leaving her room to going through the front doors, is filmed in one unbroken shot.
    • Many of the shots in the movie are not particularly long, but are staged in such a way to make you assume something else is supposed to be going on in the frame. Most of the time nothing happens, but when it does...
  • On One Condition: Cecilia loses the inheritance if she is charged with a crime or proves mentally incompetent. After Adrian frames her for her sister’s murder, he and Tom use this to force her into a Sadistic Choice of remaining imprisoned or returning to Adrian with their unborn child.
  • Perspective Flip: The story is told from Cecilia's perspective rather than Griffin's.
  • Playing Gertrude: James is played by a then-33 year old Aldis Hodge, yet he's supposed to be old enough to have a daughter who's old enough to be entering college (16/17); no mention is made of him being a teen parent, suggesting that James is meant to be at least several years older than Hodge.
  • Properly Paranoid: Cecilia vehemently believes that Adrian is stalking her beyond the grave and, after finding out about his suit, insists that he never took his life. She is right on both accounts.
  • Psychological Horror: Positioned as Sci-Fi Horror like the original film, with an added psychological horror tone akin to Hollow Man, which was inspired by the same source material.
  • Rape as Backstory: It's heavily implied that Adrian regularly raped Cecilia, on top of the physical and emotional abuse.
  • Rape Leads to Insanity: The domestic abuse Cecilia experienced while living with Adrian undoubtedly changed her. At first, it merely amounts to a simple PTSD, with Cecilia becoming reluctant to go outside and being startled by the slightest hint of someone approaching her. When the Invisible Man starts appearing, however, it gets worse. At the end of the film, when it becomes clear that Adrian will not face justice despite all he had done to her and his continual refusal to admit that he stalked her, she finally snaps and decides to murder him while making it look like he committed suicide.
  • Redshirt Army: The security guards at the mental hospital. Of course, given what they're dealing with, it's not surprising that they don't fare too well...
  • The Reveal: Two major twists. The first being Adrian has invented a full-body suit that grants the wearer invisibility - which, let's be real, we all knew going into the movie - and the second being that there are two Invisible Men, with the second being Adrian's brother, Tom, and Adrian is in fact still alive, though this turns out to be a Fall Guy gambit.
  • Revisiting the Roots: For the Universal monsters franchise itself as the film returns it to its original roots by being low budget and horror-focused like its predecessors and move on from the previous ones that never succeeded. Despite this, it is nonetheless a very loose reimagining of the source material.
  • Rewatch Bonus: After Cecilia first damages the suit, the insect-like chittering of the cameras becomes obvious. Rewatching the film makes you aware of whether Adrian is standing in the room or not by the presence of this sound.
  • Setting Update: To the present day in San Francisco, rather than Southeast England of the Victorian Era in the book.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The newspaper article announcing Adrian's death mentions he founded the tech company Cobolt, which was also the name of one of the tech companies in Leigh Whannell's previous film, Upgrade.
    • The design of the invisibility suits created by Adrian has it covered in countless different cameras, each of which resembles an eye. When someone's wearing them and the invisibility isn't turned on, they look like Argus Panoptes from Classical Mythology.
    • When Cecilia is taking a man’s car to drive to catch up with Adrian, there’s graffiti of a certain familiar face on a fence in the background.
  • Silent Antagonist: By necessity, Adrian as the Invisible Man only has a couple of lines but otherwise does not make a peep while he is stalking Cecilia. Averted when he's not stalking her and he obviously talks normally.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Adrian has cameras in every corner of his house. Granted, he is working on groundbreaking technology, but he mostly uses it to know where Cecilia is at all times. During her escape, she deactivates the cameras so he is unable to determine which direction she fled.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Cecilia doses Adrian's water with diazepam the night she runs away from him.
  • The Sociopath: Adrian. He'll torment Cecilia into getting back with him, and doesn't care what he has to do or who he has to hurt to do it.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • To Whannell's other psychological sci-fi horror film Upgrade. Both revolving around enigmatic tech moguls wreaking havoc on a trauma victim's life with sinister experimental technology.
    • The plot, about an abusive boyfriend who torments his ex-girlfriend in order to drive her mad, works just as well as a remake of Gaslight (albeit with a sci-fi twist) as it does a remake of The Invisible Man.
  • Stalker Shot: When Cecilia thinks that Adrian, her late abusive husband, is stalking her, she steps out of her friend's house where she had been hiding since she ran away. The street is eerily empty in the middle of such a cold night, so cold that her breath condenses, just before she goes back inside, the camera focuses on Adrian in his invisible suit, letting out a deep breath.
  • Stalker with a Crush: By using a machine that can turn him invisible, Adrian can now stalk Cecilia 24/7.
  • Take Our Word for It: The nature of Adrian's abuse is. Cecilia mentions that he hit her "among other things" and that's all we're told, and really all we need.
  • Technology Porn: Adrian is said to be a tech genius, and his home is filled with numerous state-of-the-art computers and camera equipment. The invisibility suit is covered head to toe in quarter-sized cameras and projectors that continually adjust themselves based on the motion of the suit. This also functions as Shown Their Work, as 360 degree cameras can link images together and experiments in stealth tech involve projection.
  • Too Clever by Half: At the end of the film, Adrian nearly gets away with everything by pinning everything on his brother (who is conveniently dead) and almost has Cecilia convinced that he was innocent. He is smart enough to not directly admit that he did anything, but because he enjoys torturing her and can't help himself, he tips her off by saying "surprise" in the exact same manner as the Invisible Man did earlier which seals his fate.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • A minor case that could also be Foreshadowing. When Cecilia dumps paint on Adrian from the attic, the texture or pattern on him is a hint that he's wearing some kind of suit as his method of invisibility.
    • Played with in another element. The trailer makes it clear that the Invisible Man is a real person and not a figment of Cecilia's troubled mind, which many assumed was going to be a big spoiler, but the movie itself reveals that pretty quickly itself, so it wasn't much of a spoiler.
  • Visible Invisibility: As first demonstrated when Cecilia discovers the machine that creates the Invisibility Cloak, the suit creates a distortion when it's either loading up or glitching.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Surprise." It's a single text Cecilia receives after discovering Adrian's phone in the attic. Adrian himself hearkens back to it in the final scene of the film, slyly admitting he was behind everything, even though he was supposed to be dead.
    • After Cecilia is arrested and put in the mental hospital, Tom goes over the legal fine print that ensures that she will no longer receive the money from Adrian's trust. Then he says there is one other option that will make all her problems go away: "Agree to have the baby and go back to him." This not only confirms that Adrian is alive, but makes it clear that Tom is complicit in his campaign to terrorize Cecilia.
  • Wham Shot:
    • The Reveal of Adrian's Invisibility Cloak in his mansion.
    • Emily having her throat slit open by Adrian and the knife being shoved into Cecelia's hand, pinning her for the murder.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Invisible Man strikes Sydney and later attempts to kill her after Cecilia exposes him.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Cecilia acts like she's going to slit her wrists in the mental hospital, assuming that Adrian is invisible and in the same room as her. If she's right, then he'll have to reveal himself to save her life, since he wants to pressure her into having their unborn child to force her to stay with him. If she's wrong, then she dies and takes their child with her, leaving Adrian with nothing in an act of spite. Turns out she's right, and Adrian is forced to reveal himself in order to stop her.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: When Adrian is caught in the act after Cecilia stabs him and causes the suit to malfunction, he attacks the security staff at the hospital (leaving most of them alive and giving several a clear look at his malfunctioning suit, rather than shooting them dead and making it look like Cecilia did it,) then has his brother wear the suit while attempting to kill James and Sydney, thereby making Tom look like the culprit while Adrian is absolved of any liability and the staff's testimony gets Cecilia out of the hospital so she is "free" to go back to him.
  • Yandere: Adrian is rather possessive of Cecilia, stating that he'll kill her if she even tries to leave the house. And this is before he becomes invisible.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: After Tom's death, Cecilia is absolved of any wrongdoing, Adrian is found to be alive, and the case is solved. However, Cecilia knew that Adrian was planning on re-emerging despite his faked suicide and that Tom had been assisting him in his plan and is now just serving as his fall guy. She cannot permit him to get away with what he did and tries to make him confess.

Detective: You’re saying the person trying to kill you is in the room right now. But we can’t see him?
Cecilia: He’s listening.

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