'The Invisible Man' Cast Talks Modernizing a 120-Year-Old Story

Premiere of Universal Pictures' "The Invisible Man" - Getty-H 2020
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Michael Dorman, Leigh Whannell, Aldis Hodge, Jason Blum, Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Storm Reid attend the Premiere of Universal Pictures' "The Invisible Man" at TCL Chinese Theatre on February 24, 2020 in Hollywood, California.

Writer-director Leigh Whannell wanted the panic to be psychological and grounded in modern reality.

If you ask Elisabeth Moss, Blumhouse Productions has been "really fucking smart."

"I think their model is really great for what’s happening in cinema right now and what’s happening in the studio system,” she said. “Television is so good, and there is so much content. I think in order to compete with that, you have to have a model where you have good scripts, good talent, a good story and you don’t need to spend necessarily $100 million on it.”

The production company, which is known for low-budget horror, has made waves within the genre in recent years with films — like Jordan Peele's Get Out — that resonate culturally because of underlying social commentary. Its latest pic, The Invisible Man, reimagines the 120-year-old monster thriller for a 2020 landscape. 

The movie turns the lens to the woman that the Invisible Man is stalking (Moss). After escaping an abusive relationship, Moss’ Cecilia finds herself being hunted by her ex-boyfriend, who has found a way to make himself invisible — but nobody believes her.

For writer-director Leigh Whannell, trying to modernize H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man felt, in some ways, like trying to win the lottery. The filmmaker didn't want to rely on jump scares and other classic horror tactics to shock audiences. Instead, he wanted the panic to be psychological and grounded in modern reality.

“I tried to make a version of this that the audience could see themselves in,” said Whannell. “The two things I thought when I first took the job [were], ‘I’ve got to modernize it’ and ‘I’ve got to make it unbearably scary,'" he said, "which is like saying, ‘I’m gonna win the lottery!’”

"The whole film is about domestic abuse and gaslighting," added Oliver Jackson-Cohen, who takes on the titular role. "That's such a clever way to attack this property and update it to a modern-day audience."

After appearing in Peele's 2019 Blumhouse venture Us, Moss said she was ready to come back for more because she knew that the company was dedicated to making films audiences want to see.

“[Moviegoers] want to see intelligent stories," she said. "They want to see stories that reflect our society back at ourselves, and our society is half women. Our society is diverse. It’s what makes money. So, I think that Universal and Blumhouse have just actually been really fucking smart in adopting that and recognizing that.”

The Invisible Man's low budget and modern twists made it the perfect film for the production company to take on, said Blumhouse boss Jason Blum.

“We do mostly lower-budgeted movies, so we can take chances on movies that feel different,” explained Blum. “Get Out felt different. The new Halloween felt different. This movie feels different. I think we’re able to do that because we place bets on scripts that are unusual. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does. I think it worked on Invisible Man.”

The film opens in theaters Friday.