February 24, 2020

GENRE | Elisabeth Moss Disappears into 'The Invisible Man'

"There you are."
Elisabeth Moss Leigh Whannell | Blumhouse The Invisible Man
Universal Pictures / Blumhouse Productions
Horror filmmaker Leigh Whannell takes on the classic H.G. Wells tale and Universal monster character for this contemporary reimagining of The Invisible Man. From the low-budget genre studio banner Blumhouse and producer Jason Blum, Whannel has put an ingenious domestic abuse twist on the invisible villain starring Elisabeth Moss as the object of his gaslighting.

I'm not sure why audiences revel so much at seeing Moss (as Cecilia here) being tormented, but she's an absolute powerhouse again here. The haunting premise, which bears little resemblance to Wells' original, is a metaphor for believing women when they seem crazy in the face of accusations against powerful men.

Moss' blistering performance coupled with Whannel's stunningly restrained direction make the film such an engrossing psychological thriller with moments and pure suspense. The story mirrors the beats of a controlling relationship where the abuser slowly isolates his victim from her allies before inflicting violence and enacting their demands.

Elisabeth Moss Leigh Whannell | Blumhouse The Invisible Man

Oliver Jackson-Cohen co-stars as the titular enemy and Cecilia's stalker ex-lover. However, he's barely a character before his sudden "disappearance" and really only seen through her perspective before his transformation into his transparent terrorizer. There are more than a few inconsistencies and buy-ins you must look the other way in as Whannel tries to unfold a tight narrative that's grounded despite some logical flaws.

Moss is almost alone or against her unseen adversary for a significant bulk of the film, but the supporting characters build to her sense of isolation. Both Aldis Hodge and Storm Reid as friends of Cecilia are the right balance of sympathetic but skeptical as no one believes her invisible ex is actually terrorizing her.

The Invisible Man is a refreshing yet deeply unsettling take on the classic character. Whannel has made the monster less visible than ever through a contemporary storyline that acts as an extended tale of a victim of abuse reclaiming her power. Everything's in the details as the film carefully sets things up slowly to pay off its thrills through characters making mostly logical decisions in the face of unlikely danger.

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