#REVIEW: “THE INVISIBLE MAN”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) has escaped from her abusive and controlling ex Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). But she lives with the constant fear that he is going to find and hurt her badly. Even after he commits suicide, Cecilia still feels like she cannot breathe easy. And when weird things start happening around her, she begins to think that maybe Adrian is still alive and stalking her – but has somehow become invisible.
Have you ever had that feeling of bloody satisfaction after a movie ends? It does not happen for me often, but I was smiling ear to ear through the end credits of The Invisible Man. Writer/Director Leigh Whannell (who gave us the criminally-underseen Upgrade and wrote/acted/produced many of the Saw and Insidious films) has taken the blueprint of one of the most popular Universal Monsters and transformed it into a modern day allegory for those living the all too real truths of the #MeToo revolution. Whannell pulls no punches, dropping us immediately into Cecilia’s horrific plight and rarely lets up for the two hours that follow.
Pivoting the focus off the Mad Doctor and onto his ex-wife is an inspired choice by Whannell. For one, it allows the Film minimal time to explain scientific mumbo jumbo that virtually no one in the audience will understand. This makes the story more accessible and less about everyone cheering for the bad guy. And going even deeper, it gives the Film a much-needed human angle. Universal’s recent re-imaginings of The Wolfman, Dracula and The Mummy have all focused in some way on each Film’s titular monster, and each one has lacked the spark that made these characters so beloved. And by turning that idea on its head, The Invisible Man immediately becomes substantially more riveting. Who needs a Dark Universe when you can just make one-offs like this?
While his story is mostly solid and unique – save for some absolutely asinine contrivances and questionable actions – Whannell’s scares soar even higher. He’s a pro at scaring the daylights out of people and uses that knowledge to give each scene emphasis or escalating tension. I found myself on edge more times than I would like to admit, and squirmed even when I was anticipating something horrible happening (mainly because of Benjamin Wallfisch’s absolutely terrifying Score). Each scare is more effective than the next, even with some scenes’ wonky CGI and other scenes’ overly-choreographed lead-ups. And the way Whannell lingers on the negative space in every frame is enough to make your skin crawl and have you thinking twice your cold shivers.
The Supporting Cast is great and play their parts well, but Moss is next-level spectacular. She is the beating heart of this Movie, throwing herself recklessly into every situation and somehow ensuring you never take your eyes off her. Her performance feels very lived-in and she is very in-tune with the paranoia and dread that envelopes and haunts her character. Her emotions are startling and real, especially when she’s interacting with someone who may or may not actually be there. We have always known what a brilliant young talent she is, and her work here only solidifies this notion.
I want to keep writing endlessly about The Invisible Man, but I fear I will rob so many of the experience of watching what terror Whannell, Moss and company have in store. There are some elements that could have been better massaged, but this is a solid Horror film through and through. Just make sure you do not leave an empty seat beside you.
Universal Pictures Canada unleash THE INVISIBLE MAN on Friday, February 28, 2020.