Monday, May 20, 2024

​Thinking Back On “The Invisible Man”

By Kenzie Vanunu 

When I first saw the trailer for the remake of “The Invisible Man” and realized it was going to be covering the subject of domestic abuse, I won’t lie, my heart did sink a little. As long as I can remember, I have gravitated towards horror films to distract myself from anything going on in my personal life for a few hours at most. Obstacles in my personal life felt small in comparison when watching most horror films, as I was never facing anything like a madman with a chainsaw, a demon haunting my home or being staged in a ritual to stop an apocalypse from happening. However, Leigh Whannell’s “The Invisible Man” remake takes this in a different direction for me and now that more people than ever are watching the film, previously at the theaters and now at home, I felt it was time for me to share my connection to this terrifying film.

For years, I was in a toxic relationship that made me seek distraction in these horror movies I watched day after day. The man I was with dictated my every action from what I ate, to how I dressed, to how I spoke. I was isolated away from my friends and family to the point where he was the only person I had in my life. He would manipulate me into thinking I deserved the emotional and physical abuse. If I said something that may have upset him, I had this sinking feeling and felt a tangible dread knowing how he would react. If I wore something that he wouldn’t like, the sense of fear waiting for his reaction was enough to make me physically ill.

He was a very popular guy that most people loved to be around. For years, I bit my tongue and honestly told no one, as I felt no one would believe me. I covered bruises with long sleeve shirts or makeup. I pretended I was clumsy with broken bones and avoided even seeing family for a stretch of time to avoid explaining the new injuries. I finally broke down and told someone, but they immediately judged me. They asked me “how could you stay with him for this long? Just leave. You probably edge him on.” After that, I never felt I had a safe place to talk to anyone about my situation. 

Eventually, I did find the strength to talk to my closest friends who were there for me, the way Elisabeth Moss’ Cecilia in “The Invisible Man” finds solace in her sister and friends. I did get out and it took years for me to feel comfortable in my own skin. I still apologize to this day for expressing my own feelings or standing up for myself, as these are things that may take a lifetime to overcome for me.

​While many have expressed, they felt they wished “The Invisible Man” had shown the physical abuse Cecilia suffered from her ex to show just how bad it was for her, I think the movie focused on something much more important; the emotional abuse and manipulation. I think in recent years, we’ve seen physical abuse portrayed on screen much more than any other type of domestic abuse. This is something you can easily identify, while emotional abuse may be harder to spot and understand. 

By the end of the film, “The Invisible Man” turns into a full-fledged revenge fantasy. The film thinks it is providing a sense of justice we may not always get in the real world. When I initially walked out of the theater, I was feeling down and having a lot of flashbacks to my previous relationship. However, the more I have thought about the film, the more I have realized it is a great update to take a classic monster movie and modernized in a way to talk about real monsters in our world today.

For me, a sense of justice was the first day I woke up and stopped thinking about what had happened to me. It was only for a few minutes at most but as time went on, I was able to go days without thinking about that relationship. Years have gone by and I have made positive changes to move forward with my life. I finally feel comfortable in my own skin and in my happy, healthy relationship with my husband.

Have you ever been in an unhealthy relationship? How were you able to lift yourself up after? What positive changes have you seen in yourself after leaving the relationship behind? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.

You can follow Kenzie and hear more of her thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @kenzvanunu

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