Bargain horror simply can't be stopped. It's A24 and Blumhouse's world, and we just live in it.
Weekend Forecast for February 28-March 1, 2020
By Reagen Sulewski
February 27, 2020
At least one thing you can say for this new wave of horror is that even if it is recycling concepts, it's doing so in an interesting way. The last couple of these studios' outputs have taken familiar premises and given them a 180 twist, or at least have bothered to put them through a lens that realizes that we've seen most of this all before. Case in point, The Invisible Man, which makes the subtext text and turns it into an explicitly feminist movie.
Elisabeth Moss stars in the film as the wife of a man who dies by suicide, and leaves her a substantial fortune with the unusual rider that she can't be judged mentally incompetent. But you see, he was an abusive jackass, and it's just the sort of power play that would satisfy him, even in the grave. And in the meantime, strange things keep happening to her -- items out of place, things going missing, strange sounds and a feeling of being ...watched. As she starts to sound the alarm that maybe her ex isn't really dead, well, yeah, that's a good way to start sounding a bit crazy. Then some of the people around her meet with violent accidents and she becomes convinced that he's found a way to turn himself invisible. OK, so that's pretty much a guaranteed way to get yourself committed and disinherited, but when it fits all the facts...
Adding a psychotic twist to the story of turning yourself invisible has been done before, specifically with 2000's Hollow Man, but this is the first take that I'm aware of to put the victim's viewpoint front and center, dealing with what kind of personality would be required, what kind of ego needed, to render yourself into being the perfect stalker. Director Leigh Whannell, a contemporary of James Wan (of Saw fame), turns it into a gripping, pointed social thriller that's kind of a sci-fi Sleeping With The Enemy. It often doesn't take much for a horror film to get good reviews, but one of the surest ways is for it to have a very visible social parallel, combined with some technical skill. That's one of the things that propelled Get Out to enormous success, and while I'm not saying that this is the next version of that -- it looks a bit too occupied with being scary than with having social commentary, for one thing -- it does have it in a good position to be a breakout film. Combine this with some very effective ads and we're looking at a strong, $25 million opening weekend. As the sole new wide release of this weekend, that puts in the driver's seat for first place.
Yielding that spot will be Sonic the Hedgehog, which zoomed past the $100 million milestone last weekend, and seems to be a shoe-in to become the highest grossing film based on a video game of all time. That low bar is cleared by passing last year's Detective Pikachu at $144 million. Let's hear it for middle of the road pandering and formulaic filmmaking! I suppose it's better than the many terrible counter-examples. Look for this to hold in second with $15 million.
The Call of the Wild had a decent $24 million start, pitching its adventure tale to young audiences and dog lovers, as well as those who can't get enough of overly expressive CGI. The presence of Harrison Ford probably helped for older audiences, but it's ultimately about animals and exciting exotic frozen tundra. Look for it to fall to around $15 million as well.
A thin weekend sees Birds of Prey managing to stay in fourth place despite a likely take of around $4 million, with the surprisingly leggy Bad Boys For Life slotting in just behind it. Oscar films 1917 and Parasite both will hang in at around $3 million, but we're definitely looking for a restock.