Mwhahahaha: evil geniuses are making a big comeback

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Mwhahahaha: evil geniuses are making a big comeback

As we plunder HG Wells for filmic loons yet again, it seems the archetype is dominating popular fiction all over again

Jake Kerridge

The forthcoming new film version of The Invisible Man casts HG Wells’s villain as a practitioner of that modish crime, coercive control. It stars Elisabeth Moss as the estranged partner of brilliant scientist Dr Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), whom she suspects of using his newly discovered power of invisibility to continue his campaign of tormenting her.

The trailer promises a body count well up to the standard of previous films based on this story, including James Whale’s 1933 version, in which Claude Rains’s Griffin causes dozens of deaths by derailing a train, and Paul Verhoeven’s Hollow Man (2000), in which a newly transparent Kevin Bacon goes on a rape and murder spree. In Wells’s original story, first published in 1897, the invisible Griffin (his forename is not revealed) commits a paltry two murders.

Yet no film version I have seen induces quite the same frisson of terror as Wells manages in his terrifyingly convincing portrait of his megalomaniacal villain...

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