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Small details you missed in The Invisible Man trailer

What you can't see can hurt you. 

On Thursday, November 7, Universal Pictures unwrapped the first trailer for The Invisible Mandirector Leigh Whannell's modernized take on H.G. Wells' 1897 novel of the same name, which was most famously adapted for the silver screen in the James Whale-directed, pre-Code sci-fi horror flick released in 1933. 

The new story bangs across beats that will feel familiar to fans of Wells' novel and Whale's classic pic — at the center of the story is a mysterious man who's discovered a way to make himself invisible, and who carries out a string of increasingly cruel crimes — but it features a whole lot of freshness as well. 

In Whannell's take — set to hit cinemas on February 28, 2020 — the titular Invisible Man isn't a genius chemist like Dr. Jack Griffin in 1933's The Invisible Man, or a reclusive figure who locks himself in a room with various laboratory apparatus like Griffin in Wells' seminal work. Here, he's the abusive, sociopathic, absurdly wealthy tech pioneer Adrian Griffin, who commits suicide and leaves his ex-girlfriend Cecilia Kass with an inheritance of $5 million. Though she insists that Adrian would never take his own life, Cecilia uses Adrian's death (and the cash he left her) as a chance to start over again without her abuser constantly looming overhead. Things go sideways when Cecilia, much to her horror, begins to believe that Adrian may not be dead after all. Rather, he's trapped himself in an invisible form and is bent on tormenting her even in "death."

The trailer hints that the upcoming flick is half The Invisible Man, half The Hollow Man (more on that later), and 100 percent terrifying. It also features several small details that likely slipped under your radar — probably as you were piecing together where you've seen Cecilia Kass before (she's Mad Men actress Elisabeth Moss) or how exactly they staged all those Invisible-Man-versus-humans fights. 

You've actually seen The Invisible Man before

Before he ends his life in gruesome fashion and becomes the murderous, somehow-even-more-vengeful-than-he-was-as-a-real-dude Invisible Man, Adrian Griffin appears in a handful of flashes in The Invisible Man trailer. Most notably, he's shown sitting at a table, sawing into a steak and placing the just-pink-enough meat into his mouth. What should be a lovely evening in — Steak that probably cost close to $100, because he's Adrian Griffin and he's super wealthy! Wine that likely came from an exclusive cellar in Bordeaux, because, again, he's stupidly rich! — is undercut by a truly haunting look that's spread across his face. Adrian looks as though he's drained of all human emotion.

If you locked gazes with the dead-eyed Adrian while watching the Invisible Man trailer and felt he looked far too familiar for comfort, you're not alone or losing your mind — you probably have seen him before. That's because he's played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen, who starred as Luke Crain on Netflix's acclaimed horror series The Haunting of Hill House

According to director Leigh Whannell, Jackson-Cohen will give the performance of a lifetime in The Invisible Man. As he told Empire, "When you're looking for a character that is a villain, for lack of a better term, a sociopath looking to do harm to others, you want to avoid the moustache-twirling trappings of a villain ... [Jackson-Cohen] was playing it in this really interesting way. He's one of those actors who seems to be able to flick a switch in two seconds and go from zero to 100. He can be mucking about one second, and then he becomes this character."

Taking a page from Ari Aster's book?

There's a striking moment in the trailer for 2020's The Invisible Man that happens about mid-way through: While Cecilia is cooking, she briefly exits the kitchen to grab something, and when she does, the stovetop burner suddenly ignites and engulfs the pan in flames. The knife Cecilia was using also slides off the countertop — a sign that it'll probably be used on Cecilia later on in the scene.

It's one of the most well-lit scenes in the trailer, subverting genre expectations that horrors and thrillers should be literally dark as a way to intensify the suspenseful atmosphere and make any jump-scares and rug-pulls that much more surprising. However, as fans will recall, director Ari Aster proved earlier this year that horror can be just as, well, horrifying out in broad daylight. His film Midsommar was set in the midnight sun season in Sweden, with all its terrors playing out in the open, and has been regarded as one of 2019's scariest flicks.

The bright, day-set scene in the Invisible Man trailer feels like a tip of the hat to Aster, as it brings the Invisible Man and all his life-threatening behaviors out from the shadows. We may not be able to see the Invisible Man, but he doesn't have the added benefit of darkness to keep him even more hidden — and Whannell knows that he shouldn't: "The Invisible Man doesn't need to hide in the darkness — that's the whole point of the Invisible Man! This is a monster who doesn't need to hide in the dark. He could be standing right next to you in a lit room and you wouldn't know he was there."

The Invisible Man trailer pays homage to the Hollow Man

Many film trailers feature scenes described as "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" moments that don't quite fit that definition. But The Invisible Man trailer actually does include a moment that you may not have even seen while watching it the first time around. 

It happens at the tail end of the trailer, when Cecilia is in a hospital, attempting to locate Adrian in his Invisible Man form. He appears for two split seconds — once in an upside-down shot beneath the threshold of the hospital's double doors, just under the EXIT sign, and again in front of Cecilia with his hand raised. Those moments are basically over before one can register that they happened, but a careful rewatch of the trailer for The Invisible Man allows viewers to be on the lookout for Adrian-as-the-Invisible-Man. Pausing the footage at the 2:21 mark, one can see an almost-translucent, sort-of-watery figure that looks a bit like the Hollow Man — the titular character of Paul Verhoeven's 2000 film, which is also based on H.G. Wells' novel The Invisible Man

In that film, a cocky scientist named Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) becomes the first human to be injected with experimental invisibility serum. Unfortunately, the serum doesn't wear off. Sebastian can't revert back to his human self, is quarantined to a laboratory and forced to wear a latex skin mask (hence why he's called the Hollow Man), and goes on a murderous rampage. Sound a bit like Adrian Griffin in The Invisible Man? Well, he looks like him, too.

All wrapped up in the Invisible Man trailer

It's clear by the trailer that the upcoming Invisible Man movie takes its own unique spin on its source material, pulling inspiration from other Invisible Man adaptations and from fresh entries into the horror genre. However, that doesn't mean that the film goes without an important reference to H.G. Wells' Invisible Man and the 1993 film translation. 

Near the end of the trailer for The Invisible Man, we see someone wrapped up in gauze, laying on a stretcher with an oxygen mask over his mouth, as two nurses wheel him to another area of the hospital. It's assumed that this might be Adrian Griffin, though there's no way to know for certain, as the only part of the person's body that's visible is their eyes. This figure looks similar to the Invisible Man of the past, but still remains its own presence: the full-body bandages are a clear homage to the character, the shadowy strip that reveals two eyes are a twist on the sunglasses the original Invisible Man wore, and the oxygen mask seems to represent the fake nose H.G. Wells' Griffin sported. 

"I'm definitely paying homage to the original Invisible Man," director Whannell told Empire. "felt like the best way to move this character forward was to come up with a whole modern take on it, something very grounded, not something gothic [...] There is a version of the Invisible Man that is very retro and an homage to a style of movies past. That is not something I wanted to do."

See (or, er, don't see?) the Invisible Man when the new film opens in theaters on February 28, 2020.