The Invisible Man breaths fresh life into the Universal Monster Movies, being gripping, tense and incredibly effective.
The Invisible Man is directed by Leigh Whannell (Upgrade), starring Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Haunting of Hill House) and Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures), and is Universal’s latest attempt to bring one of the great classic movie monsters back to the big screen.
The Invisible Man starts with a suspenseful late-night escape by Cecilia (Moss) from the mansion-like house of her partner Adrian (Jackson-Cohen). She has an escape plan, one which sees her barely make it out alive, going into hiding under the roof of detective James Lainer (Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid). As Cecilia is trying to put her life back together, she is still living in the shadow of Adrian, believing he will find her, until the day she learns that he has killed himself, leaving her money, if she doesn’t commit a crime and proves she is mentally competent. Here, Cecilia starts to get an unnerving presence around the house, with things moving around, and she soon starts to believe Adrian is still alive and has managed to turn himself invisible, hellbent on ruining her life still. Can she prove it in time, is the question left for Cecilia.
The Invisible Man is one of the original Universal Monsters; in 1933 James Whale first bought it to the big screen in one of the classics of the genre. That movie follows the invisible man trying to fix what has happened to him, while this time we get a much more time-appropriate movie that follows an abuse victim who has been caught up living in pain, wanting out, only to show they will continue to feel trapped even after escaping their grasp. The story soon moves into the horror, with the carefully maneuvered camera work highlighting that somebody is in the room, only we don’t know what they are doing, which is the oldest and best trick in the book for horror, letting the audience decide for themselves, upping the scariness. As seen in the trailer, we get that clever breath sequence, which shows us how close the Invisible Man is to Cecilia, leaving her helpless once again.
The Invisible Man shows two clear sides of Whannell’s directing ability; first, we get the silence of scenes, with the at-home-alone sequences, where Cecilia is doing her thing, getting the sense of somebody watching her. We only ever hear natural house sounds through this, making it incredibly tense to watch, with Whannell’s Upgrade experience coming into full effect once the Invisible Man is willing to get more physical, using the same shooting style and fight techniques that we saw in that film to achieve the right effect.
The Invisible Man could easily be called the first truly great horror movie of the decade. Elisabeth Moss’s performance will come back up when awards season is around, and when the horror community starts calling for a horror film to be recognized. The biggest question is might it be? Aldis Hodge and Storm Reid make for great supporting characters in the film, showing great chemistry as father and daughter, coming off like natural people who want to help.
The Invisible Man is going to go down as one of the best horror movies of the year, it has one of the best performances in any horror, it shows that Leigh Whannell has stepped out from beneath the shadow of his Saw co-writer James Wan to be taken seriously in the horror world on his own merits, and finally shows how Universal can get a monster movie right.
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Darren starting writing for films at Movies Reviews 101. He joined the Ready Steady Cut team in 2018 and is a proud member of the LAMB (Large Association of movie bloggers).