Soundtrack Review: The Invisible Man (2020)

The soundtrack for Universal Pictures’ remake of The Invisible Man is now available digitally and will be available on LP starting March 4th, 2020. Starring Emmy Award winner Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), The Invisible Man is a terrifying modern tale of obsession inspired by Universal’s classic Monster character.

Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding. But when Cecilia’s abusive ex, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House), commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of eerie coincidences turn lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

The film’s score was composed by Benjamin Wallfisch (Blade Runner 2049, IT). He has worked on over 75 feature films and has received Golden Globe®, BAFTA®, two-time GRAMMY® and Emmy® nominations. It was recently announced that Wallfisch will score the New Line/Warner Bros reboot of Mortal Kombat, which is slated for a 2021 release.

Regarding the film’s score, Wallfisch had the following to say:

It was about using silence rhythmically. When there is music, the gestures and sonic attitude are sometimes so left-field and extreme that you almost don’t trust the score’s absence when it’s not there. As a kind of analogue to the presence of Adrian Griffin [the Invisible Man] in the film.

Also, the orchestral instrumentation is deliberately constrained to strings- only so that the musicians were pushed to their max, without the support of a full orchestra. That choice was also an homage to one of my heroes, Bernard Herrmann and one of his masterpieces, the Psycho score.

As the film progresses, Cecilia (Moss) devolves into questioning her every move, then grows into her power. The composer reflected that journey musically as well:

Cecilia’s Theme,’ a simple melody for cello and strings, was written to be a musical reminder of her own sanity, as everything unravels around her,” Wallfisch said. “You only hear it a handful of times in the movie, at key turning points in the story. There is also a piano motif that recurs a few times, something building and insistent, meant to portray the way she still manages to hold on to who she really is, against all the odds, ultimately triumphing.”

Because Wallfisch was tasked with creating musical space for an antagonist who is literally not present, the composer had to factor into his choices for Adrian/the Invisible Man some elements that he’d not previously considered for a villain:

Rather than a melodic theme, we needed a signature sound for Adrian—something that just creeps up on you. The sonic for the Invisible Man himself is entirely electronic, and when it goes full tilt, we tried to push things as hard as they could possibly go.

Knowing that the Invisible Man is characterized by electronic sounds makes listening to the soundtrack very interesting indeed, as his motif truly does creep up on you, appearing when you least expect it. There’s a jarring contrast between the strings of the orchestra and the electronic tones as well, which could be symbolizing how unnatural Griffin’s invisible existence really is (after all humans weren’t meant to be invisible). Also, I can definitely sense the homage to Herrmann with the all-strings orchestra. These days it’s somewhat unusual to get a film orchestra that’s all strings, as it creates a musical dynamic that you don’t hear all that often anymore.

Wallfisch really appears to be ratcheting up the tension with this soundtrack as well, as each track is just full of it. Even the tracks that don’t contain references to the Invisible Man are full of subtle tensions (which you would expect in a horror film), as if the next encounter could happen at any moment. It was enjoyable to listen to, but also more than a little nerve wracking since after a while you come to expect that at some point the Invisible Man sonic will jump in and surprise you.

All in all, the soundtrack for The Invisible Man was quite enjoyable, just from listening to it I’m half tempted to check out the film itself once it arrives in theaters.

TRACK LIST
  1. Cobolt
  2. Escape
  3. He’s Gone
  4. This Is What He Does
  5. We’ve Got That In Common
  6. Make It Rain
  7. Attack
  8. Why Me
  9. The Suit
  10. Asylum
  11. He’s Behind You
  12. House Fight
  13. It’s All a Lie
  14. Surprise
  15. Denouement

Check out the soundtrack for The Invisible Man when you get the chance. And let me know what you think of it (and the film) in the comments below, and have a great night!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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4 thoughts on “Soundtrack Review: The Invisible Man (2020)

  1. Reely Bernie

    Well done. I thought the score was the perfect complement to the brooding unveiling and unfolding of the “invisible man” mystery. Just eerie stuff. Loved it all! This is still my favorite movie of 2020 (and the last one I saw in the theatre).

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Soundtrack Review: The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020) | Film Music Central

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