Review of 'The Invisible Man'

the_invisible_man.jpg Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss, familiar as “June Osborne” in “The Handmaid's Tale” TV series) escapes from an abusive relationship with wealthy optics scientist Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Hiding in the home of her best friend policeman James Lanier (Aldis Hodge) and his teenage daughter Sydney (Storm Reid), Cecilia believes she is being watched. Learning of Adrian's suicide, Cecilia becomes more relaxed and is able to leave the house without suffering anxiety attacks. One evening the blankets of her bed are removed while she is sleeping. When tries to put them back on the bed it is clear something…or someone…is holding them down on the floor. As events get more and more violent she starts to believe that Adrian is still alive and is stalking her using optical technology. When she is framed for the murder of her best friend she decides to take matters into her own hands…

I debated about where this film should be placed on this site: Horror or Science Fiction. I feel there are enough bloody, horror elements to justify putting it under “horror”. This film is quite a disturbing and terrifying film mostly from the psychological standpoint as a vindictive lover plots his revenge - Or is it just an active imagination? For the later, this is quickly put to rest for the viewer with no real doubt as to what is going on which is perhaps a bit of a disappointment as I feel it could have been drawn out much longer with a sharp twist at the end revealing the truth but this is undeniably exposed not even half way through the film. Even at this though there is revealed another flaw in that the pacing seems all messed up: In the first half of the film there are lots of slow paced pans of (seemingly?) empty rooms but this is thrown out the window and go into full action mode in the final half largely destroying any feeling of tension we may have had. Though this makes us more comfortable, perhaps it would have been more effective to continue to drive up the tension with this earlier pacing further into the film? There is also the issue of incredulity with supernatural looking events occurring in public without even a hint of CCTV or even observant witnesses. It is a bit of a stretch in this day and age. This is not the only place where we are asked to suspend our disbelief - When Sydney is struck by an invisible assailant she immediately assumes it is Cecelia despite our having been led to believe the two have been close friends for quite some time. Similarly, when her sister receives a single email she immediately believes it to be from Cecelia despite it being completely out of character and not having even approached Cecelia to talk about it (yes, it says not to contact her, but this is her SISTER!).

The film looks great with it's slick sets and special effects. The “invisible man” technology itself is a stretch but it looks utterly convincing here. Audiences will easily accept this and watch to see what happens to Cecelia in battling an invisible assailant.

As with her role in “The Handmaid's Tale” Elisabeth Moss is terrific as a paranoid and repressed woman who has this underlying strength that she is not afraid to use in plotting her revenge. She is so expressive with her eyes you can't help feeling for her, satisfied when (if?) she is vindicated for her paranoia. This is largely a one-woman show with Moss on the screen most of the time with an invisible assailant or walking through (seemingly) empty rooms though the supporting task do help drive up the tension.

Perhaps overly predictable (and overly visceral), “The Invisible Man” is a good bit of psychological horror that perhaps reveals it's hand a bit too easily and provides an unsurprising ending. I defy you not to jump in surprise when watching this film…

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2024-02-25

Directed by: Leigh Whannell

Studio: Universal Pictures

Year: 2020

Length: 124 minutes

Genre: Horror

Other reviewed films by Leigh Whannell: