Leigh Whannell (director)
2h 4mins (length)
27 February 2020 (released)
02 March 2020
The Invisible Man, the science-fiction novel by H. G. Wells, has inspired many films and TV shows, most notably in Universal Pictures' 1933 horror movie. However, this take is completely different.
Universal has been trying to reboot The Invisible Man for some time, with Johnny Depp even in the frame to play the lead, but since it fell into Leigh Whannell's hands, it has taken on a totally new and modern form, with the focus on the woman rather than the man.
That protagonist is Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss), who we meet as she's escaping the home she shares with her abusive boyfriend Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a tech millionaire and visionary in the field of optics.
A few weeks later, she's living with childhood friend James (Aldis Hodge) and his teenage daughter Sydney (Storm Reid) and learns that Adrian is dead and she's a beneficiary of his trust.
Cecilia soon realises Adrian has found a way to make himself invisible and is stalking her. Of course, nobody believes her and starts to think she's crazy. Rather than using his invisibility to scare Cecilia, Adrian makes calculated moves to isolate her and ruin her life so she will go back to him.
If you're coming to The Invisible Man hoping for a simple scary movie you might be disappointed. It does have a couple of jump scares, it's super intense, and there are moments of unbearable tension, but it's less of a horror and more of a character-driven psychological thriller about domestic abuse and gaslighting.
Whannell, who is known for the likes of Saw and Insidious, has taken the material and interpreted it in a completely new way, transforming it into something that's timely, modern, and grounded in reality.
He has also crafted the story cleverly. Adrian's appearances begin extremely small, but they are still unnerving and tense because you don't know what he will do. The plot gradually escalates and escalates until it reaches a shocking yet satisfying conclusion.
Moss gives an impressive performance and really commits to a role that could have been easily overdone. She feels realistic as a woman pushed to her limits, who has anxiety, and probably PTSD, but is determined to sever her ties to Adrian once and for all. She might be a victim but she's not a damsel in distress.
If you go in expecting a terrifying story about an invisible man going on a killing spree like 2000 horror Hollow Man, you will be disappointed, as this is a story about abuse. But to Whannell's credit, it's so much more relevant and timely this way, and just as intense and thrilling.