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July 2, 2020

A Binge too Far #11: A Blumhouse duo (2020)

Betty Gilpin in The Hunt, also starring Hilary Swank and Emma Roberts.
 Back when we had the ‘mom and pop’ video stores, it was up to Jason and Freddy to scare the shit out of us if you dared to rent those tapes. Of course that was only until you graduated to Faces of Death or Guinea Pig. Nowadays things are a bit different because whereas independent film is losing people over its no-budget shot-on-video non-quality, people get scared by A24 and/or Blumhouse, the latter of which offers the two great films reviewed bellow that you should not miss.


Elisabeth Moss is prominent in The Invisible Man poster.
The Invisible Man (2020)

Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) is a victim of abuse. Her husband, an ultra-rich optical illusions specialist is a controlling monster that hits her and could have been raping her as well but this doesn’t become very clear (it wouldn’t matter anyway as the extent to which one is abusing is secondary to the fact that he is actually an abuser, essentially a monster). He is controlling the way she lives as well as the way she thinks (and in order to achieve that he goes as far as drugging her), the archetypical domestic prison scenario that is so common. One day she manages to escape and seek solace to a friend’s place (the sympathetic Aldis Hodge), leaving everything behind and cutting all connections to her previous life. A few days later she learns that her monster of a husband has killed herself, leaving her a fortune as well. However, it soon becomes apparent that she is stalked by an invisible assailant that destroys her life. Could it be her dead husband?

From the 40 or so movies that were spawned by the ‘Universal Monsters’ period, The Invisible Man (1933) remains one of my very favorite ones, so I was really curious to see what Universal Pictures (credited here as a presenter) had to offer with this remake from Blumhouse Productions, written and directed by the modern master of the genre Leigh Whannell [Upgrade (2018)]. The end result does not disappoint.

More of a psychological thriller about abuse, rather than a straight-out monster movie (there is no monster, the assailant is human), this utilizes an excellent performance from its female lead (it is really a one-woman show), who is essentially the ‘scream queen’ of the present generation, a term that shouldn’t be used lightly and for all b-movie non-professional actresses, but rather for Oscar-worthy artists such as Elisabeth Moss. Her portrayal of an abuse victims that is so wounded and destroyed that she appears to be out of her mind is the best acting I’ve seen in ages.

Filled with artistry (the long scene in which the Invisible Man is offing many guards in a psychiatric ward is the work of a master), this is engaging horror at its best and it should be missed by none. Made on a $7 million budget, it grossed an impressive $126.1 million.

The Hunt (2020) poster.
The Hunt (2020)

Strangers that they only thing they have in common is being ‘simple folk’ or otherwise Republicans, are hunted by rich Liberal elites for sport, in what appears to be the middle of nowhere, U.S.A., but it’s actually Croatia dressed up as Arkansas, in this modern take on The Most Dangerous Game.

The plot sounds simplistic, and at times it is thankfully so, but there is a big twist in the middle that will leave you in awe. However, its strengths lie in its clever satire of the Liberal and Republican stereotypes, from rich C.E.O.s to conspiracy theorists, essentially making a dystopian portrait of modern America.

The fact that director Craig Zobel [Compliance (2012)] plays many proportions of it in ‘tongue in cheek’ manner (the outrageous gore, or some of the humorous acting) never makes this a comedy, as what it really is in its heart is the greatest modern Orwellian film we’ve seen.

Made by Blumhouse on a budget of $14 million, this was originally scheduled for release on September 2019 but due to the mass shootings in Dayton the previous month, the release was held in order to not cause further controversy, essentially becoming ‘The most talked about movie of the year is one that no one’s actually seen’ as per the tagline, until it was released in March 2020 when it grossed a mere $6.5 million, a flop that is attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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