The Invisible Man (2020)
Directed by Leigh Whannell
Now you see him, now you don’t. When renowned scientist and abusive husband (Benedict Hardie) is found dead, it relieves his estranged wife Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss), if only slightly. But when she starts hearing bumps in the night, she’s not convinced it’s her imagination. Soon, bumps become wallops (and worse) and Cecelia has to fight for her life against someone she can’t even see.
When Universal announced it was bringing its monsters back to the big screen, people were excited. There was great potential in these stories, if only they could be made modern and engaging. The Tom Cruise starrer “The Mummy” was not that, and the idea of an interconnected Dark Universe went down faster than a lead zeppelin. But then “Upgrade” director Leigh Whannell and uber-producer Jason Blum teamed up to deliver a fresh take on H.G. Wells’s now-unrecognizable 1897 story, “The Invisible Man.” And the Universal monsters are back, baby (still not inter-connected, but that’s okay)! And what a monster. This Invisible Man presents an imperfect picture of an abuser, maybe, but there’s also not only one type of abuse, abuser, or victim. All I can say is that I was terrified of the man even before I saw him lay a hand on Cecilia. Benjamin Wallfisch’s sonically overwhelming wall-of-sound score helps to heighten the tension, to be sure. As does Stefan Duscio’s camerawork, which often points at what looks to be nothing at all in the hopes of convincing audiences that an invisible man might be standing there. It worked. Terror lurks in every corner, as far as you can tell.
Working with an invisible man was no problem for Elisabeth Moss, who delivered one of the best performances of this young year. Playing a friend Cecilia moves in with after her separation, Aldis Hodge also does a commendable job. Sometimes, his role reminds us that we’re watching a horror movie, but then Moss comes along and delivers a crying scene better than the material might deserve. Still, “The Invisible Man” is full of unexpected twists and turns that put it in a different class of horror movies. If you see these twists coming…well, you won’t (because of the invisibility).
“The Invisible Man” is edge-of-your-seat tense from beginning to end. There’s no need to prep a go-bag. You’re going to want to stick with this one.