Recommendation: An unsettling and tense thriller with big jump scare energy, The Invisible Man will upend expectations and delight winter audiences. 9/10.
IMDB Synopsis: When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
The Invisible Man could have easily fallen into campy remake territory, but director Leigh Whannell has crafted a high wire act that’s so tense from bell-to-bell it’ll have audiences squirming. Incredibly fraught, at times extremely unpleasant, and subversive, The Invisible Man is a treatise on gaslighting, domestic abuse and believability of victims, all wrapped up in a suspenseful and disorienting thriller.
Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) wants out of an abusive relationship (both physically and emotionally) with tech mogul Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). After leaving him in the dark of the night—after drugging and robbing him in an incredible opening sequence, no less—the paranoia sets in. For two weeks, Cecilia is petrified to set foot outside, knowing Adrian is coming for her until she learns of his death by suicide. Adrian’s brother Tom (Michael Dorman) is charged with executing his will that gives Cecilia five million dollars of Adrian’s estate.
Once the film reaches the end of first act, it really ratchets up the tension. Cecilia doesn’t believe that Adrian is really dead and starts to see ghosts. Of course, there really is an invisible man—not exactly hidden from the story or trailers—who begins to gaslight Cecilia… taking an item here, planting an item there. Sabotaging her professional life, drugging her, ruining her personal relationships. Weaponizing societal norms to cripple her sanity to isolate her from her family and friends.
Without spoiling the crux of the film and it’s inevitable plot turns, The Invisible Man succeeds both as commentary of society’s complicity in gaslighting of victims, while also being a truly jumpy thriller. Director Whannell (Upgrade) uses empty scenes and wide shots to let the audience’s proxy paranoia run rampant. Effectively, he’s hidden the terror in plain sight. Sharp sound and production design allow for Whannell to utilize a number of small sets to create moody and petrifying set pieces. All in all, what could have been a campy monster movie is instead a slick thriller with real and tangible scares. The Invisible Man deftly carries the torch as a horror-thriller with a message that we’ve seen lately (Get Out, Ready or Not), delivering on all levels. See this one in a big dark theater.
MVP: This is a one-hander with Elisabeth Moss delivering an incredible performance. She oscillates between confident, nervous, anxious, crazed, and deceptive with the same talent we’ve come to know her for.
Highlights: It’s what’s not in the frame that scares us the most.
Director: Leigh Whannell
Studio: Universal // Original release date: February 28, 2020