Are you familiar with the old saying, “behind every great Invisible Man is a great Visible Woman”? No? Because I just made it up? Do you think it would make a good blurb?
Leigh Whannell’s contemporary re-imagining of the classic horror tale of The Invisible Man stars Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia, a woman who narrowly escapes from an abusive and controlling relationship with Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a wealthy and powerful man.
Shortly after, Adrian is found dead of an apparent suicide, leaving Cecilia a sizeable fortune in his will. However, a series of bizarre incidents lead her to suspect that his death was staged. Convinced that Adrian used his scientific genius to discover a way to become invisible, Cecilia battles to get anyone else to believe her, while her invisible stalker’s harassment continues to escalate.
From the harrowing opening escape from Adrian’s mansion / prison, The Invisible Man will have you hooked. The film’s greatest asset is Elisabeth Moss’s powerful performance; the antagonist may be invisible, but the terror and anguish he instils in Cecilia are plain to see.
Adrian’s invisible presence in her life isn’t only as a literal stalker, but also finds expression in the deeply rooted trauma of an abusive relationship. Cecilia is haunted by her terrifying ordeal well before there’s even a whiff of invisible shenanigans, and this emotional core goes a long way to anchoring the story.
A well-rounded cast of likable characters who initially support Cecilia, but grow distant and distrustful as time ticks on also contributes to the mounting sense of dread – while many horror movies choose to isolate their protagonist and make them appear insane in the eyes of others, few pull it off so effectively. Here, Aldis Hodge deserves a special shout-out for his memorable supporting turn as James, Cecilia’s childhood friend and law enforcement officer.
Whannel’s confident direction makes the titular Invisible Man seem omnipresent; just the slight indentation on the cushion of a seemingly empty chair is enough to put the audience on edge. There are times when it’s unclear whether he is actually there or whether the mind is playing tricks on the heroine, which is both unnerving and effective.
When the action gets going, Whannel employs the same dynamic and stylish techniques he did in Upgrade to good effect. That said, it’s hard to deny that the Invisible Man hitting, shoving or grabbing people can also look silly. Yet other times still, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself less horrified than intrigued by how they executed key shots.
A couple of predictable twists and turns, along with some contentious moments towards the last act still won’t hinder one’s overall enjoyment. While the ending is predictable, it is nonetheless effective because the film works hard to earn its conclusion. Every time I found myself second-guessing something, I was pretty willing to let it slide. The Invisible Man won me over quickly, and was smart enough and good enough to ride that momentum to the end.
The Invisible Man releases 28th February 2020.