Here's a lesson on budget genre filmmaking that was done right and why you should trust your instincts by focusing on the invisible.
I've never been a big horror guy. And to be completely honest, I grew up avoiding most films that even contained horror elements. Maybe it was because of the trauma of seeing the child's play at a much too early age, or maybe it just didn't appeal to me. Whatever it was, I'm sorry I avoided everything since I accepted the films that made the viewer feel most uncomfortable.
And this latest adaptation of H.G. Wells' famous novel The Invisible Man is for you. Not just with me. It was received by both fans and critics with an overwhelming majority with a 91% review rating for Rotten Tomatoes and global sales of $ 98.3 million.
However, it's not just critics and audiences who have enjoyed The Invisible Man's inconvenience. Despite decades of success with mega-horror franchises like Saw and Insidious, author and director Leigh Whannell offers a great lesson on how to overcome dubious producers and cynical test-takers, as well as a fine example of how emerging genre filmmakers can create excitement -filled, story-focused heightened horror to the delight of critics and audiences alike.
A focus on excitement
Without going into spoilers, The Invisible Man summarizes as follows:
"When Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) abusive ex (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) takes her life and gives her his assets to her, she suspects that his death was a joke. When a series of fatalities become fatal, Cecilia tries to prove that she is is being hunted by someone nobody can see. "
Over the years, the property has been transformed into more than a direct feature film, as well as numerous sequels, spin-offs, inspiration, and television series. And while the genres have changed, the story at heart has always been one that focuses on the tension and terror of the invisible.
Tension is a hallmark of film and cinema and goes back to Alfred Hitchcock, Mary Harron and David Fincher. For those who are interested in some practical tips for picking up tension, here are some great resources.
A compelling story about great effects
In a great interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Whannell talks about his writing and filmmaking process for The Invisible Man. Most fascinating for aspiring filmmakers is the section where he reveals what happened after the first test screenings. Both the audience and the producers wanted to see more of the earlier relationship between the two main characters.
"I will never be able to write a scene that makes Adrian as scary as the audience can make it. In my mind, I hoped that Cecilia's reactions and the way she behaved would tell you everything you need to know. "
Whannell, however, had to stick to his instincts and insist on focusing on his principles of tension and horror. Instead of a big, stubborn opening sequence (or too many flashbacks), we are simply put into the opening promotion. The audience can imagine all possible reasons for Cecilia's fear of Adrian.
How to challenge the audience
And it's safe to say that Whannell's gambling paid off. Despite these early test screening notes, audiences and critics reacted to the exciting and terrible elements of The Invisible Man. Not that Whannell made his producers too worried. Most of his screenplays and films have proven that challenging low-budget genre indies can lead to blockbuster results.
Working with his film partner James Wan, the duo has consistently succeeded in converting around $ 10 million in budget features into hundreds of millions at the box office. What Whannell sees in the same interview as a meticulous focus on “not doing the obvious”.
So if you're interested in getting into the industry, following the low-budget model for suspense and horror is as good a way as anyone else. Further tips, tricks and interviews on the subject of suspense and genre filmmaking can be found in the following articles.
Cover picture via Universal Pictures.