The Invisible Man
Dir: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Elizabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer and Michael Dorman
4.00 out of 5.00
In 1933, director James Whale adapted the H.G. Wells novel, “The Invisible Man: A Grotesque Romance,” into an elegant thriller about a consumed scientist whose experiments turn him into a murderous invisible monster. This classic horror movie gets a creative and timely update from the hands of director/writer Leigh Whannell who turns “The Invisible Man” into a creepy and tense tale focusing on the trauma suffered by an abused woman.
Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) wakes up in the middle of the night, the arm of her boyfriend Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is wrapped tightly around her waist. Cecilia carefully and quietly gets out of bed, tiptoeing around the large beachfront mansion gathering her belongings to escape the abusive and controlling grasp of Adrian. She narrowly gets away, finding safety in the home of a police officer (Aldis Hodge) and his young daughter (Storm Reid). However, Cecilia doesn’t feel free and gets a sense that Adrian, who was found dead in his home, is still stalking and invading her every move.
A lot of creative choices are made by Leigh Whannell in building and manipulating the mystery to provide unexpected twists and turns. Whannell also does a great job in crafting and squeezing the tension of the atmosphere, applying a combination of elements in very effective and affecting ways. It starts in subtle ways, with camera pans to empty spaces that keep the eyes of the viewer searching the edges of the frame for clues, with small occurrences like the movement of a knife or the revelation of someone’s breath condensation. It moves to big blatant horror strokes, with butcher knives and a nicely composed scene in a hospital setting. Whannell has creative roots in the horror genre – it’s obvious once the more grotesque elements reveal themselves – but it all works so nicely in giving “The Invisible Man” a unique sense of style.
All of these designs wouldn’t be possible without a strong narrative and believable characters. Whannell deliberately paces the story, structuring through different scenarios how manipulative Adrian is while also allowing a bulk of the focus time to feel and see the extent of Cecilia’s trauma. Moss provides an exceptional performance, taking the character through an array of convincing emotions and allowing Moss opportunity to build the character into someone to get invested in.
“The Invisible Man” may not offer the scares some may be expecting, but instead it crafts a thrilling and creepy story from start to finish, building a masterclass of tension through filmmaking designs consistently. Whannell’s skillful strokes within the narrative structure and intriguing filmmaking style make “The Invisible Man” a welcome remake and one of the most thrilling films of 2020 so far.