By Fred Topel | Image property of Buena Vista Pictures.
The spirit searching for his displaced body is a classic conceit of supernatural stories. It's easy to be skeptical going into another one, but The Invisible at least finds an interesting way to tell it. The filmmaking is so well constructed that it really is a masterpiece of cinema, if not storytelling itself.
Movie Review: The Invisible
Nick Powell (Justin Chatwin) is a star student with a bright future. Annie (Margarita Levieva) is a punk thug. She beats Nick to near death thinking that he turned her in for a crime, and Nick becomes a spirit. He can see himself throwing things and breaking things, but it doesn't actually happen and no one can hear him. So he has to watch the people in his life react to his disappearance and hope they can find his body before he really dies.
At least this movie doesn't try to make it a mystery. I'm really tired of ghost stories where it's revealed in the end that they just had to find the body. They ALWAYS have to find the body. That was an episode of Angel as well as several movies whose twists I won't be such an A-hole as to ruin.
So this movie deals with the character of the displaced spirit, the frustration of watching life around you. It's frustrating for the audience too, but it maintains the tension. He finds minor ways to influence the world, such as a connection with animals and some sort of mental link with Annie, but it's not much of a help in his quest so it's still within the concept.
Oh, and that filmmaking I was talking about? The blocking of Nick's noncorporeal actions is expert and classy to hide things that can be implied, and to show things displaced and replaced in a single take. There are no editing tricks. They somehow found a way to replace broken glass and trashed shelves in a tracking shot.
They even explain the concept visually. Nobody tells Nick that he has to find his body. He witnesses a death and the apparitions related to it and makes the connections himself. Thank God for small favors, but in a day when everything is told through exposition, I appreciate good old visual storytelling.
The Invisible may not go down in history as a groundbreaking film, but with all the crappy knockoff horror movies coming out every week, I'll take a solid piece of entertainment when it's offered.