Invisible World is a film with no images. That means no director of photography, no gaffer, and no make-up. What there is, though, is a plot, a soundtrack, sound effects, plenty of characters, adventure, romance, humor and, at times, a self-deprecating script.
Given its delivery, there’s one rule you have to embrace if you want to “watch” it: It’s absurd. Once you get over that, you might gain resourceful movie making insights. Below are the main things we learned from this strange experience:
The most effective way to accomplish absurdism is by embracing that absurdity. The writers behind Invisible World did that by constantly bordering on the illogical. And they went meta by admitting in the movie itself that it makes no sense. Take the moment when one character Derek flat out says, “You can tell these guys are only used to writing commercials.” We agree, Derek.
Michael, the protagonist, expresses his sadness, frustration, and pain through a long “Nooooooo!” twice in the movie. Why did this catch our eye...erm...ear? Because apparently, every time this happens, he breaks a world record for the longest “no” in a movie (don’t ask). He also gets a text message afterwards, announcing his record. The first “no” contains 80 Os, while the second has 147.
In a movie without images, rely on descriptions. In Invisible World, characters introduce and describe themselves. Take Carla, the Michael’s ex-girlfriend’s best friend, who bursts into a basement and says, “I’m a tough, scrappy young woman who doesn’t take no nonsense from anyone.” It’s like the casting brief made its way into the movie.
Whether you’re making a Western, an alien-invasion blockbuster, a romance flick, or a movie with no images, compelling characters hold your film together. Invisible World demonstrates that with the aforementioned Derek, a loyal bro who’s somewhat of a bully. Due to his know-it-all attitude, he’s off-putting to most decent humans (as Carla explains, “Ugh, Derek, you’re the worst”). As the plot thickens, though, he’s responsible for triggering new twists in the action. Every movie needs a Derek.
One character, Charlie, is always present, but he rarely talks. All we know is that he recently had brain surgery. His resulting scar made his best buds, Derek and Michael, throw up so violently they broke a video game machine and opened a portal that unleashed vicious aliens. Charlie serves to kick-start the story, but for the rest of the movie, he serves as a Greek chorus by recapping the action every few scenes. The lesson here is that when you fear your audience is lost, just throw in someone to sum everything up.
Sure, a smooth-voiced narrator can set the entire mood and strike the necessary emotional chords, but for a wild humor/sci-fi movie without images, focus on the action. At least when you’re making an invisible movie in which an alien makes out with a heartbroken human during a college party (Yep, that happened). Plus, as we’ve learned, all scenery and character development can be baked into the dialogue (albeit awkwardly).
Spoiler alert: A character dies. He sacrifices his life for someone after a long, agonizing speech. And just when the dramatic violins start, and the last goodbye is about to happen, Invisible World throws in its first visual: two actors dressed in head-to-toe green lycra, in front of a green screen. No big pretensions in keeping the movie magic hidden, instead a reveal of how this invisible scene happened. Supposedly? After this scene, the screen goes blank once again.
Intrigued about what actually happens? Hint: Old Spice’s Invisible Spray sprays on clear and gives characters a kind of super power. “Watch” Invisible World here.
Astrid Harders is a senior writer for Studio@Gizmodo.