Our Take: 4.5/5 Stars
The horror genre is notoriously chock-full of low budget, poorly acted, shoddily directed movies. Within the past few years, however, the genre has seen the release of more high-profile films that have had both commercial and critical success. Examples include Jordan Peele’s debut “Get Out,” last year’s hit “Midsommar” and the recent Stephan King adaptation “IT.”
The latest addition to this golden age of high-quality horror is Leigh Whannel’s “The Invisible Man.” Whannell, who has a long history in the genre, not only wrote the film’s screenplay but is also the director. Among his other writing credits are hits like the first three “Saw” movies and “Insidious.” As his fourth directorial feature, “The Invisible Man,” shows Whannell’s mastery of this horror; the film is perfectly paced, incredibly acted and beautifully shot.
The original “The Invisible Man” premiered in 1933 and was a near-perfect translation of the H.G. Wells novel of the same title. Ninety years later, Whannell’s adaptation strays from the original text; the changes are seamless, and the film feels like original content as opposed to a familiar remake.
Cecilia Kass (Elizabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”) is a former architect trapped in an abusive relationship with genius optics engineer and millionaire Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, “The Haunting of Hill House”). After successfully escaping from his large estate with the help of her sister and subsequently hiding out with a childhood friend, Cecilia learns that Adrian has committed suicide. Cecilia is finally freed of her abuser. That is, until she begins experiencing unexplainable events and suspecting her ex-boyfriend found a way to terrorize her from the grave. Suddenly, Cecilia can not trust her own senses, her grip on reality slips and her friends begin doubting her mental wellbeing.
The film rests entirely on Moss’ performance. Few actresses working in Hollywood could have delivered such a performance, Moss completely knocks it out of the park. Much of her screen time is solitary, as she acts opposite an unseen man who may or may not be entirely in her imagination. The film does not work unless the viewer feels as though Cecilia is sane at some points, only to doubt her a second later, a feat that Moss is able to effortlessly pull off.
At the perfect intersection of horror and thriller, “The Invisible Man” psychologically torments not only Cecilia, but also the viewer. As a survivor of domestic abuse, Cecilia suffers from PTSD, and her invisible tormentor exploits this.
This elevates “The Invisible Man” from a well done and spooky horror movie to an incredible psychological thriller that deftly explores domestic abuse. Cecilia’s plight — aside from the fantastical elements — mirrors that of millions of victims. This grounding in reality is what makes this movie bone-chilling.
Though it only premiered in theaters a few months ago, due to the current situation “The Invisible Man” is available for home viewing. The film can be rented for under $20 on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Xfinity, Google Play, Vudu and FandangoNow. “The Invisible Man” is well worth the rental price, especially if it is split between a few quarantine buddies.