Category: New Releases
In 1897, famed science-fiction author H.G. Wells wrote the novel, The Invisible Man, about a scientist who turns himself invisible. Years later, Universal Studios saw great success with their series of monster movies in the 1930s, including Dracula and Frankenstein. As part of this series, the book was adapted in 1933 directed by James Whale and starring Claude Rains. Following its success, many sequels were made during the 1940s, featuring actors like Vincent Price and John Barrymore among others. The character proved so popular that various other film and TV adaptations have been made over the years. Fast-forward to 2017's The Mummy, which was to be the start of Universal's Dark Universe, a cinematic universe about monsters. However, the series was built on hold following its critical and financial failure, and focus was shifted to individual films. The first of these is Leigh Whannell's 2020 film, The Invisible Man.
Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) has just escaped from an abusive relationship from her ex-boyfriend, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Now living with her childhood friend James Lanier (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid), Cecilia seems safe. However, she's still paranoid given what she was put through, but things change when it's reported that Adrian killed himself. Strange things start happening, including Cecilia being drugged, her sister leaving over email, and her being blamed for hitting Sydney. Cecilia tries convincing people that Adrian faked his death and has become invisible, but no one believers her. She starts investigating his house for proof that he's found a way to make himself invisible and she's not crazy. Soon enough, Adrian turns up and reveals he's been using his invisibility to ruin her life after she left him. Will Adrian be stopped, and what will become of Cecilia?
The Invisible Man is proof that you don't need a large budget to make an effectively tense horror film. Leigh Whannell, coming off the underrated Upgrade, once again shows his potential as a filmmaker and a name to watch. While his previous outing was more fast-paced and action-packed, this one is much more of a slow burner. Some people might be put off by the much slower pace, but it's those quieter moments that make it work. Elisabeth Moss gives an amazing performance, perfectly blending fear with raw intensity, and helps keep the film grounded. You instantly sympathize with her and want to see her fend off Adrian despite what's happening to her. The supporting cast, including Hodge, Reid, Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer, and Michael Dorman have their moments and perfectly complement Moss's performance. It's also a clever modernization of the story originally created by H.G. Wells.
What's interesting about this version of The Invisible Man is its themes of manipulation, abuse, and psychological effects. It plays on the fear of someone coming after you long after distancing yourself as far away as possible. In an age where abuse victims are more vocal and wanting justice against their abusers, this film is extremely relevant. Thankfully, this film doesn't focus solely on its message or themes but rather weaves it into the plot. Admittedly, some plot elements don't make sense or create plot holes, but those don't ruin the overall experience. This is a very well-written and intelligent psychological horror film that plays on real-world fears that audiences can identify with. Whether or not this starts a new series of Universal monster movies, it's still successful as its own self-contained story. Overall, The Invisible Man is a fantastic modernization of a classic tale.