The Invisible Man is an excellent horror film. It’s thrilling from start to finish. Director Leigh Whannell understands that merely suggesting that someone/something could be watching and stalking can strike more fear in you than just blatantly showing you a CGI monster in a mirror. The film is atmospheric and enrapturing. What also makes the movie great is Composer Benjamin Wallfisch’s music composition. Wallfisch alternates between silence and rich Hans Zimmer-ian scores to enhance the atmosphere and keep us at the edge of our seats.
The opening sequence alone is an excellent example. First, you hear the sound of waves. What follows is complete silence, as the protagonist walks around the house quietly while her man sleeps, gathering her things in an attempt to escape. The tension builds and builds and then we hear a dog bark, followed by a rich and heavy score that elevates our heart rate.
In an interview with Collider, Wallfisch mentioned that director Leigh Whannell wanted the music of The Invisible Man to not just be an accompanying piece but a character in and of itself.
Leigh’s vision was to have the music very much as a character, and not just as underscore. We really wanted the score to take an active role in the experience of the film. A lot of it was about articulating and using silence in a very rhythmic way. By that I mean: when there is music, it tends to be very left field, bold and quite extreme. So you almost don’t trust the absence of music when there’s silence. By doing that the silence almost becomes a musical event. There are very careful structural choices that were made to maximize that.
Apart from that, Wallfisch also talked about how he used music to add texture to the characters.
First there is a cello theme which you hear when she finds out Adrian is dead, and at a couple of other key moments, and secondly a piano theme which has an insistent, building quality. This is also heard only a handful of times in the score, but is meant to convey her inner strength.
And then, in contrast, Adrian Griffin, The Invisible Man, his world is entirely electronic and very aggressive. The sound which Leigh and I were trying to go for him was an electronic sound where things are pushed to the limit in terms of aggression at times, but also something very quiet and indistinct, so it almost creeps up on you. Adrian has a kind of synth leitmotif, something we called a ‘growl’. It shifts in tone throughout and gives him presence even when you can’t see him. It was really fun to have the string orchestra and the electronic elements to the score co-exist in that way.
The Invisible Man opens in Malaysian cinemas 5 March 2020.