'The Invisible Man' director Leigh Whannell explains why he drastically changed the classic HG Wells character

Amy West

The Invisible Man writer-director Leigh Whannell says he knew he was going to have to make the title character “more mysterious” if he wanted to spook cinema-goers in 2020.

Talking about why he chose to centre his adaptation of H.G. Wells’s 1897 classic around domestic abuse – rather than the tragic, science-fuelled insanity of the original – the Aussie filmmaker explained that the novel does what it sets out to do so well, it would’ve been redundant of him to delve into the same themes again.

“I just felt like the original novel was more of a character study. It was about how this person’s experiment on themselves drove them to madness, which is really interesting,” he tells Yahoo.

“I think there was a lot psychologically that Wells could’ve gone into.

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“Modern audiences have seen a lot of films, and it’s hard to scare them. It’s hard to out-think them and so immediately, I thought, ‘I have to make the Invisible Man more mysterious than he’s been in the past.’”

Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia Kass in 'The Invisible Man', written and directed by Leigh Whannell. (Universal Pictures)

Fortunately, he had the backing of Blumhouse Productions, the Jason Blum-owned company that has produced the likes of Get Out, Halloween, Split and The Purge all within the last decade earning the mini studio a reputation for letting filmmakers try things out.

“You can experiment. When the budgets are a little bit lower and there’s more creative freedom, you feel like you can try something and nobody is gonna lose their shirt if it all goes wrong,” Whannell laughs.

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“So for this movie, I felt empowered to try was shooting empty spaces. Like, can I make that scary?

(Original Caption) 1933- Claude Rains stars in the H.G. Wells classic thriller, "The Invisible Man."

“It’s not like you’re holding back something because you’re afraid the audience can’t take it – it’s actually the opposite. It’s knowing that the audience will fill in the blanks with more powerful stuff than you could,” he continues.

“You let them do some of the work for you.”

“There’s a lot of arthouse horror that just shows things that are awful but there’s no fun to it,” Blum adds, when asked about the film’s mix of thrills and frights. “The movies that I’m, by far, the most compelled by are movies that are scary and fun.”

Storm Reid as Sydney Lanier in 'The Invisible Man' (Universal Pictures)

Starring The Handmaid’s Tale star Elisabeth Moss and The Haunting of Hill House’s Oliver Jackson-Cohen, The Invisible Man centres on Cecilia Kass, a woman who becomes convinced that her manipulative and violent ex Adrian has discovered a way to stalk her without being seen.

“What’s brilliant is that Leigh has written a story about abuse but it’s not exploitative in any way,” Jackson-Cohen notes.

“Lizzy and I spoke at great lengths about the relationship [between Cecilia and Adrian], so there was a certain amount of responsibility to tell that story as honestly as we possibly could.

“These are real men that exist in the world, and they’re incredibly dangerous. So, as uncomfortable as it is playing it, I think it’s important.”

The Invisible Man is in UK cinemas now. Watch a clip below.