The Invisible Man is directed by Leigh Whannell. It stars Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen.
Cecilia Kass is in a relationship with surveillance expert Adrian Griffin, who is an abusive and controlling man. One night, she flees with a friend, only to find out some time later her abusive husband has committed suicide. Over the course of the coming days, she finds herself haunted by strange goings on in the home where she stays with a friend while trying to rebuild her life. Has Adrian truly found a way to return from the dead, unable to be seen by the naked eye?
It seems like with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe being a runaway success, every other studio is trying their hands at it. Universal has attempted to relaunch many of their “Classic Monsters” properties, but without the same good fortunes, luck, or box office returns. How many times have we seen attempts at Frankenstein and Dracula movies which have ended up terrible? The Invisible Man is the latest in a long line of attempts to revive a former monster concept for modern times…
…and, surprise. It’s actually a good movie!
Director Leigh Whannell’s film fuses a sci-fi/fantasy concept with modern domestic life, incorporating themes like toxic masculinity, domestic violence, divorce, and psychological torture. What could have been a series of cheap jump scares and baseless gore ends up being one of the most intelligent and shocking movies of recent memory, brilliantly modernizing an age-old concept. The plot twists are plentiful, even if the movie does run too long and go for too many of them.
The star of the show is leading lady Elisabeth Moss as the tortured and tormented Cecilia Kass. It only takes one look at this woman to fully believe her story. Movies often hinge on the strength of the protagonist, and Moss’ character acts pretty much as you’d expect under such circumstances, absurd as they may be. The supporting cast, including the likes of Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, and Harriet Dyer, are largely stock stereotypes, but their reactions to the circumstances at hand are certainly believable enough. They get the job done, and in a movie such as this, that’s a welcome change from many of the less-than-adequate attempts we’ve seen in recent years.
The film even succeeds in applying other touches to create an unsettling mood. This can range from a camera angle focused on seemingly nothing, or from an apparent point of view of someone we can't see as an audience. Little touches like this make all the difference in the long run.
There’s actually a plot here this time around, and the villain’s strategies aren’t just as black and white as “kill the protagonist.” Here, there’s an elaborate scheme in place which involves turning friend against friend, well-plotted sabotage, and other elements causing her life to spiral out of control. Just when you think you’ve seen it all plot twist wise, Whannell still manages to surprise. Admittedly, the film is too long, and a major late-in-the-game plot twist sort of makes the movie fly off the rails into the realm of absurdity and ridiculousness, but while it works, it works. You’ll just wish it was about 20 minutes shorter.
The Invisible Man isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s a sharply intelligent piece of psychological horror, beautifully combining dramatic elements with the supernatural. Elisabeth Moss gives us the ideal performance of a tortured woman pushes to her breaking point, and Whannell’s direction keeps things flowing smoothly and the performances believable. And it’s more than just a gore fest, although the movie’s violent moments do earn it a deserved R rating. It’s worth seeing in theaters despite its minor flaws.
Rating: Three stars out of four.
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