Eighteen-year-old Nick Powell (Justin Chatwin) sits at a party, obviously bored. He gets up from the table, slices a piece of cake, and then goes inside a house to put a shotgun in his mouth. Immediately afterwards, Nick wakes up from his dream.

The dream echoes Nick’s waking feeling of invisibility. In director David S. Goyer’s The Invisible, no one really “knows” Nick – the kids at school think he’s pretentious, and the only attribute Nick’s mother Diane (Marcia Gay Harden) seems to care about is his intelligence.

It seems blatantly preordained that school thug/resident outcast Annie Newton (Margarita Levieva) beats up Nick, who awakens to find himself literally invisible.

Nick lingers on the verge of life and death, and is powerless to save himself. His actions affect nobody, and no one can affect him – that is, except for Annie. Strangely enough, Annie is the only one who can hear Nick’s cries for help. Nick must depend on the very person who assaulted him to save his life and inform searchers where his body lies. As Nick tries to communicate with Annie, he discovers that although he may be physically invisible, Annie is unable to connect with others despite her physical presence.

For a film advertised as a mystery/thriller (trailers asked audiences “How do you solve a murder when the victim is you?”), it is ironic that Nick knows, and we know, who is responsible for his beating from the movie’s beginning. It is also ironic that Annie, who wields a knife and can punch out any man she wants, is about as intimidating as Hilary Duff and as waif-like as Nicole Richie.

What’s sadder than Nick’s screams of agony and anger while he lingers between life and death in the context of the film itself? Perhaps that the idea of the film isn’t a bad one, and is even original, but is not carried through with any conviction.

After leaving this film, in which every character, as well as the story, seems underdeveloped, you are most likely to not remember it. If you do for some reason remember this movie, you’ll probably be left thinking, “How could this have been better?”

The Invisible was not screened in advance for critics, and the reason is apparent: Much like Nick’s invisibility, the company neither wants critics to acknowledge the film’s flaws, nor acknowledge how it will be unmemorable for audiences.