When it comes to innovative voices in genre cinema, Aussie wunderkid Leigh Whannell (Saw, Upgrade) is a filmmaker who is shaking up cinemas with his bold ideas and down and dirty style. And now he’s turning this style towards The Invisible Man, which takes a celebrated horror screen icon and re-envisions it for a new technological age with the result being nothing short of pure white knuckle terror!
Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister (Harriet Dyer), their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge) and his teenage daughter (Storm Reid).
But when Cecilia’s abusive ex (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax.
As a series of eerie coincidences turns lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
Leigh Whannell is becoming the go-to voice for genre filmmaking and he once again re-teams with the visionaries over at Blumhouse Productions to breath new life into the terrifying horror of The Invisible Man. Grounding his film in contemporary reality, Whannell brings a fresh lens to the story of The Invisible Man in a film that focuses on themes of obsession, control and spousal violence. In the frenzied era in which we live in, it’s a much needed subject to focus in on, and while Whannell certainly dials up the horror and includes a good helping of shocking gore, this film is about a victim overcoming her fears and rising to take back her liberty. Mixed into this narrative of obsession and escape, Whannell also explores the dangers of technology and how the absence of checks and balances very often leads to havoc.
We’ve known for a while that Whannell is one of the foremost rising voices in genre cinema and with The Invisible Man he firmly puts his stamp on this classic horror character, bringing raw energy to the narrative. His film rockets home with suspense and takes inspiration from such genres as the siege movie and the monster movie, and mixes both in with a scary mix of technology that will keep you on edge. Where Whannell goes right with The Invisible Man is that he shocks his audience at the most unexpected moments. The Invisible Man is a piece of cinema where you don’t see the hits coming, and when they do, well, wham, they wallop you from left field and send you flying! His focus and dedication to this twisted project cement Whannell as one of the most exciting and active voices in genre cinema and he certainly sends audiences into shivers with this one.
While the film may be titled The Invisible Man its protagonist is, in fact, a woman, played by the remarkable Elisabeth Moss. As an actress, Moss has shown herself to be a true chameleon performer with a diverse list of credits including Mad Men, Top of the Lake and The Handmaid’s Tale, and here in The Invisible Man she once again gives an outstanding performance. As protagonist Cecilia Kass, Moss is a presence of blinding fear and mental fatigue as she claws to escape her longtime boyfriend, the brilliant, yet predatory psychopath Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) who keeps her in his twisted control. Finally escaping him, and learning of his own self-imposed death, Cecilia finds her own sense of freedom returning to her for the first time, but it soon becomes clear that Adrian is not gone and his psychopathy rises to an all-new terrifying level.
As Cecilia Moss’s performance in The Invisible Man is a masterclass in what it means to be a Scream Queen, and there are plenty of gnarly moments that twist up Cecilia and send her already fragile self into an even darker downwards spiral of horror. Moss makes for an extremely compelling horror victim, especially in the devastating psychosis that begins to permeate in her behavior, and her crazed wild-eyed, sleep-deprived appearance and actions are sure to make audiences sit up in their seats. As Griffin submits Cecilia to even more shocking torture, and the horror ramps up, you feel the fear building and wonder where Cecilia will get out alive. But Moss’s Cecilia is a survivor and in this narrative of a woman overcoming her abuser you can be certain that the film’s ending will have you in a fit of shock when Cecilia finally turns the tables on Griffin.
The Invisible Man is a terrific piece of horror and as we enter a brand new era with the 2020s its excellent to see that there are talented artists, both in front of and behind the camera, that are looking to do something innovative with the horror genre. This film benefits from this type of innovation and if you’re looking to experience some pure edge-of-your-seat suspense then you’ll find it with this freakishly scary film.
Image: Universal Pictures