Dan's Review: Surprise! "The Invisible Man" is worth seeing
Mar 02, 2020 10:24PM
By Dan Metcalf
Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man - © 2020 Universal.
The Invisible Man (Universal)
Rated R for some strong bloody violence, and language.
Starring Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, Benedict Hardie, Amali Golden, Sam Smith, Zara Michaels, Anthony Brandon Wong, and Nash Edgerton.
Written and directed by Leigh Whannell.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m no fan of the horror film genre. To me, it feels like most horror movies rely on two basic devices: the “jump scare” and gore (perhaps a third element can be attributed to the scare of all things occult, but even that leans heavily on things that ooze blood or go “bump in the night, but I digress). A few of the cleverer horror films take things a little further, causing audiences to pause and reflect on their own humanity, while also relying on their own imagination and less on the graphic stuff. Another constant drawback of horror films, in general, is the over-reliance on recycling well-known horror stories over the years. We’ve seen plenty of vampire and werewolf remakes in the past eight decades, so why not take another crack at The Invisible Man?
This time around, it’s the story of Cecelia, the abused, “kept” wife of Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) a genius billionaire/inventor who is working on some sort of invisibility tech. Fed up with Adrian’s overcontrolling structure, Cecelia calls on her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) to help her escape and hide out at the home of her ex-husband James (Aldis Hodge) and their teenaged daughter Sydney (Storm Reid). Soon after, Cecelia gets word that Adrian has committed suicide and that she’s inherited $5 million from his estate. Though conflicted about the money’s origin, Cecelia accepts and vows to help put Sydney through college. That’s when Cecelia begins to feel the presence of someone in James’ house. At first, she chalks it up to jitters, but soon she notices the undeniable evidence that an invisible man is stalking her. Knowing Adrian’s research and his conniving ways, Cecelia tells James and Emily her fears, but no one believes her. When the invisible man begins to terrorize Cecelia, the tension increases, especially after she passes out from a covert drug overdose and confronts the man, who she believes is her supposedly dead husband. The invisible man then does everything he can to ostracize Cecelia from James, Sydney, and Harriet, making them doubt her sanity even more. All this conflict comes to a head when Cecelia’s loved ones are violently attacked and she is framed as an insane murderer. Now institutionalized, Cecelia knows the invisible man is still stalking her, and she must resort to desperate means to get her family and the authorities to believe that the invisible man is real and poses a great threat to everyone.
The Invisible Man is less of a horror movie and more a suspense thriller, even though there is plenty of the aforementioned jump scares and gore to go around. What makes the movie rise above other lazy films is the performance of Moss in the leading role, exhibiting a little more depth than most protagonists have in so many other forgettable horror movies. Despite the real tension of Moss’s character trying to convince everyone she’s not insane, The Invisible Man loses a little credibility as plot holes develop. You begin to see implausibility lurking in the shadows of a premise that works – until it doesn’t. Here, you see the old horror movie clichés like seemingly intelligent people making all the wrong decisions, along with an overreliance on coincidence.
Despite these slight distractions, The Invisible Man is better than most horror films, making audiences think a little more and startle less. Who knew? It's a horror movie I enjoyed for once. I’ll bet you didn’t see that coming.
"The Invisible Man" Trailer