Friday 23 June 2023

REVIEW: Fear the Invisible Man (2023) - Starring Mike Beckingham and Mhairi Calvey

Review by Jon Donnis
We have seen an almost endless stream of movies and TV shows about the H. G. Wells novel "The Invisible Man", so when I heard about yet another film telling the story, I was slightly apprehensive when it came to sitting down and watching, but was I right to be apprehensive, or was I surprised by a decent retelling of the classic story? First thing to note is that unlike other recent films, this one goes back to the Victorian era of the novel, which is a smart decision, last thing anyone needs or wants is a woke reimagining.

The film starts off with a brief scene in which a man is killed by an unseen force, we then get to see Griffin (played by Mike Beckingham) racing against time to finish his experiment. His landlord and a bailiff are pounding on the door, ready to evict him. Moments before they kick in the door, he injects himself with an experimental substance. Suddenly, his flesh and bone vanish, (this is a really cool scene, and without a doubt the highlight of the film, despite being a low budget film, this scene looked decent, if not quite Industrial and Light and Magic type decent) he then escapes, causing an explosion that kills them and destroys his lab.

Meanwhile, Adeline (portrayed by Mhairi Calvey) disbelievingly reads about a series of crimes supposedly caused by an invisible man. She has other concerns, struggling to pay the bills and avoid selling the manor after her husband's death.

To her surprise, Griffin, a former classmate, turns up injured and hiding in her house, imagine her surprise when she realises, he is invisible. He desperately needs her help not only with his wounds but also in retrieving his journals from Marvel (played by Grahame Fox), a homeless man Griffin had forced to assist him. Marvel promptly took his notes and money and disappeared.

As I briefly mentioned this is a low budget film, and usually when I hear a film is low budget, and they are going to rehash an old story I roll my eyes, but WAIT, this is actually a rather good film, yes the story is over 100 years old, but that scene practically at the start showing Griffin inject himself, and then we get to slowly watch as first his skin, then his muscles, and so on disappear, was so well done, that it had me hooked.

The film does have much in common with the H.G. Wells book, a few things have been changed, for example Kemp (a man) has become Adeline Kemp, a woman, which in turn allows for a love interest angle. But the basic premise remains the same. A man becomes invisible, and then slowly goes insane. In many ways I found that this film was more centred around the Adeline character, and how she is dealing with not only her own circumstances, which in turn lead her to at first help Griffin, but also finally realising the horrors that are happening, and how she needs to end things.

Due to the lowish budget, many of the scenes filmed with Griffin are done in the dark, this is understandable, as a dark scene helps hide any imperfection with the visual effects. It is not a massive issue, but I would liked to have seen a few more daylight scenes with him.

Mhairi Calvey holds the film together, she is the star, mainly as she is the main person you see on screen, Mike Beckingham for obvious reasons is mainly a voice actor in the film, outside of the very start and very end. I like his voice and cadence, and he does a good job portraying Griffin.

The Good
A nice retelling of The Invisible Man story, I liked that it was set in Victorian England and there is a nice build up to the last 20 minutes where the film turns from thriller into horror.

A strong performance from Mhairi Calvey. Well filmed and nicely directed, this is a good film considering the restraints.

The Bad
I hate criticising a film, when I can understand that the budget is the reason, some of the CGI effects are a bit poor, for example 19th century London backdrop, not great. Not enough Invisible Man cliches to please me. And also a little long at 95 minutes, this film needed tightening up to 80 to 85 minutes in my opinion.

I really liked the transformation into being invisible, that grabbed my attention. The story is well told, the Adeline character holds the film together well, some lovely country scenery too is always well appreciated.

Considering the budget, I thought this was a nice little film, well acted, well directed, well filmed.

Definitely worth checking out.

I score Fear the Invisible Man a respectable 8/10.