A woman is stalked by her abusive ex-husband after he
fakes his own death and discovers a way to become invisible.
The Invisible Man (2020)
Written and Directed by Leigh Whannell
Starring Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer,
Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Michael Dorman
Remake of 1933's The Invisible Man
Based on characters created by H.G. Wells
After bursting onto the scene with Saw and showing he's got what it takes when he unleashed Upgrade on the world, Leigh Whannell comes back with his take on The Invisible Man. Admittedly, I was worried that Universal taking another stab at mining their classic monsters would be another abysmal failure like The Mummy. I was encouraged a little when the news came out that Whannell was writing and directing this because he isn't afraid to take risks and, with the backing of Blumhouse, a recipe for success was being created. I could not have been more surprised by what I saw. To their credit, Universal backed off and let the Australian maestro do his thing. The James Whale film focused on the man as it was adapted directly from the H.G. Wells novel and that is a testament to the acting prowess of Claude Rains as he drives that film from start to finish.
This time around, Whannell wasn't going in that direction which is where the risk taking comes in that I mentioned earlier. Instead he crafts a story that is all too relevant in today's society and an untold one in years prior. We are in the shoes of Cecelia (a wonderful performance by Elizabeth Moss) as she is leaving her abusive husband, Adrian. Slowly we see, like Cecelia, that he may not be dead after she learns of his suicide. Whannell could have used a lot more hokey camera tricks and visual effects but instead relied on excellent framing and camera movements to create dread and tension until Adrian makes his "appearance". The director uses the invisibility as a metaphor for the presence an abuser has on their victims. Even when they're not around, they are always there.
Horror films work best when they amplify an emotion or situation and allow the audience to identify and sympathize with the characters. While some might have wanted this to be more about the monster, we are given a truly terrifying tale of abuse and what happens when we don't take someone's cries for help seriously. I have seen the internet call this a #metoo movie and I am not going to jump on that bandwagon because that, to me, diminishes the writing/directing of Whannell and the performance of Elizabeth Moss to just a topical cash in instead of an intense, emotional horror movie that reminds us that monsters aren't always vampires, werewolves, goblins, or zombies: humans can be just as, if not more, terrible than anything that stalks the night.
First, Blumhouse resurrected Halloween. And now, they did the same for the Universal Classic Monsters with The Invisible Man. After the abysmal failure of creating a shared universe with the decently titled Dark Universe, Universal went back to the drawing board trying to figure out what to do with their beloved monsters. They eventually decided to do what they should have done in the first place. Instead of a big budget action spectacle, it was decided to go with a smaller scale, horror approach. You know, how these characters started out as. Shortly after, it was announced The Invisible Man would be the first in this new attempt and Leigh Whannell would direct. Due to how much I love the classic monsters and Whannell’s previous feature, Upgrade, I was quite excited when this was announced. After seeing it, please give me more like this.
Whannell has really grown since his beginnings as a co-writer for Saw. Having proven himself as an extremely talented director, it’s safe to say that The Invisible Man is possibly his most technically proficient film. Given the plot of our main character being stalked by her invisible, abusive ex, Whannell does some truly impressive work with the camera. The way he frames shots to where there are supposed to be two people creates a sense of tension and unease which I haven’t felt in a long time watching horror movies. Now, noticed I mentioned an abusive ex. Yes, this film deals with the theme of abuse. Whannell, again, shows his talent by crafting a tale where this theme enhances the story. At no point does he ruin it by beating it over your head. Something I’ve felt more than once in more recent films. None of this would work, however, if our main actress wasn’t up for the task. Elisabeth Moss very much is. She delivers one of the best performances I’ve seen in a horror film. Her transition from a scared, battered woman to one kicking ass is magnificent. Moss handles it with aplomb. I hope to see her in more genre films in the future. Finally, I got to mention the ending. Never had I had a more satisfying moment watching a film than the finale to this. I’m not going to spoil it but know you will be cheering.
The Invisible Man is the first great horror film of 2020. Leigh Whannell continues to prove himself as one of horror’s best new directors. Elisabeth Moss gives an outstanding performance. This is a superb, and smart, adaptation of one of Universal’s classic monsters. Now, lets’ hope they don’t screw this up because I am legitimately excited to see which monster they resurrect next. And I have to say it: horror doesn’t make money at the box office, huh Universal?
The Invisible Man remake is one of the smartest horror movies in a long time. Instead of rehashing the same old story of a brilliant scientist who becomes invisible and goes insane, Leigh Whannell created an original story that's just as terrifying, if not more so. This film tackles spousal abuse, manipulation, stalking, and victim shaming better than any film of the last ten years. Elisabeth Moss delivers the performance of her career in a film that will stay with you and have you constantly looking over your own shoulder.
Cecilia (Moss) escapes her psychotic husband Adrian (Jackson-Cohen) and soon learns that he's killed himself and left her $5 million in his will. Soon after, Cecilia starts feeling like she's being watched and sees things being thrown around the room by some unseen force. While everyone around her thinks she's losing her mind, Cecilia knows what Adrian, the world's leading expert in optics, is capable of and the lengths he will go to hurt her. She becomes convinced he faked his death and has somehow turned invisible. The build-up to the reveal of Adrian's invisibility is brilliant, as Whannell treated it like a ghost movie. There's one particular scene that represents a severe turning point, where I realized that this is one of the best horror remakes in years.
The Invisible Man will haunt you, in more ways than one. It's an emotionally driven horror movie that puts you in the shoes of a woman who refused to be a victim of a psychopath. Cecilia is a phenomenal protagonist and a brilliantly written character, and joining her in this crazy film brings you face to face with the same horrors that are constantly haunting her. This film is intense, scary, thrilling, and intelligent. Go see it.