Leigh Whannell is just showing off at this point because he directs The Invisible Man masterfully. Since arriving on the scene with his friend James Wan with their breakout hit Saw in 2004, Whannell has been a force to be reckoned with in the horror genre. His most recent hit was 2018’s Upgrade, but now he has returned to set the bar very high for the rest of the year with his new film, The Invisible Man. His highly skilled camera work combined with a solid script, haunting score, and a game-changing performance by Elisabeth Moss makes this film a must-see.
The Universal Classic Monsters have made a triumphant return with The Invisible Man. A reboot of the hit 1933 film, and a contemporary adaptation of H.G. Wells novel of the same name. Directed and written by Whannell, the film stars Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Storm Reid, Aldis Hodge, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, and Elisabeth Moss. In the film, Cecilia Kass’s (Moss) life finally seems like it is going to change for the better after her abusive ex takes his own life. However, Adrian’s (Jackson-Cohen) demise is an elaborate hoax to continue tormenting Cecilia and make her life miserable, as he has mastered a way to be invisible.
Moss is mesmerizing in her role as this distraught, broken woman who just wants to have some control in her life. She portrays her character in a way that immediately captures your attention from the opening scene. Cecilia has tried to put her best foot forward through it all, but she finally manages to escape her toxic relationship with Adrian. The breakdown of this woman is all made abundantly clear through Moss’s tears and facial expressions. While we don’t see Adrian for most of the film due to his John Cena status for most of the run time, it becomes clear that the secondary antagonist is those who don’t believe Cecilia’s claims.
Whannell’s script is a bit questionable towards the end as several things become illogical in one way or another, but overall it still is very well written. Only other issues were the fact that the other characters outside of Moss’s, even Adrian, felt underdeveloped and uninteresting. Aside from that, Whannell makes empty spaces horrifying multiple times in this script, as Cecilia wanders her surroundings unable to spot her stalker who is right in front of her at one point or another. In the original film, the invisible man himself was the one audiences spent the most time with. Whannell flips it allowing a modern touch that suits today’s climate, as this film plays out from the victims POV.
Aside from Moss, her co-stars deliver in their roles as well despite not being as important or interesting as the character of Cecilia. The Invisible Man cast gives it their all throughout this tense, fast-paced rollercoaster. Still, the performance that will receive the most attention will be from Moss. She shines with her expressive versatility, emotional depth, and her ability to fully embody the fractured nature of Cecilia, who does manage to get the last laugh in the end against Adrian.
As mentioned above, Whannell’s directing is on another level with The Invisible Man. He has previously directed Insidious: Chapter 3 and Upgrade, both films got him a lot of attention for his directing. This time around, he has crafted a film that is very atmospheric, suspenseful and shocking on multiple occasions. It turns out the trailers were misdirecting on purpose because there a few twists and jaw-dropping moments no one will see coming. Whannell’s direction is only heightened by a gut-wrenching score from Benjamin Wallfisch. The score boosts the dread and unknown that Cecilia faces in each scene as she searches for, or is preyed upon by her invisible assailant.
The Invisible Man is a great achievement for sci-fi horror and a nice return for Universal Monsters. Despite the script becoming a bit clunky in the middle, Moss’s performance and Whannell’s masterful direction are enough to keep this film afloat. The Invisible Man is the first solid mainstream horror film of the year.