The Invisible Man Review

The Invisible Man never seemed sinister to me as a character, probably because I saw films like Memoirs of an Invisible Man when I was little.

Invisibility was all a bit of a light-hearted lark back then, encapsulated in the benign form of one Chevy Chase.

Then I got a bit older, the world grew less innocent… and 2000’s Hollow Man came along. Even though I first watched it in French with no subtitles (long story), the dark tone was clear and all traces of the earlier invisible man were erased, so to speak.

Hollow Man partially prepared me for the tone of Leigh Whannel’s take on the H.G. Wells story, but Whannel’s film bears a lot more substance. No pun intended.

Sorry – the invisibility jokes are hard to avoid.

Whannel’s film feels a more atmospheric piece than previous efforts, and proves a relevant update, focussing on the victim rather than the perpetrator.

Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) is a woman trapped in an abusive relationship with the controlling Adrian Griffin. He’s a wealthy tech genius type, with a cliffside mansion and some dubious kit in his underground lab.

Basically, an all-round wrong‘un.

The film begins with Cecilia’s escape from Adrian’s clutches, aided by her sister Emily and longtime friend James.

Two weeks pass, and Cecilia finds out that Adrian committed suicide, leaving her with five million dollars.

Still unsettled by everything, she slowly starts to piece her life back together, but her efforts are soon disrupted by strange incidents, like appliances acting up and items moved around the house.

Are these accidents? Is it all in her head? Is she haunted by her abuse, or literally haunted by her abuser? These are the questions initially posed by Whannel’s film.

To use a sporting analogy, it’s a film of two halves; firstly focussing on the long-lasting damage caused by domestic abuse, including the most extreme examples of gaslighting committed to film, and later shifting gear into an all-out thriller with bursts of action.

The scares are evenly spread throughout, which should satisfy fans of the genre, both Blumhouse and otherwise.

Cecilia, also known as ‘Cee’ to her friends – ‘Cee’ in the Invisible Man… geddit? – is convincingly brought to life by Moss. Given the strength of Moss’ performance, the invisible man rightly remains very much invisible in this film.

The modest cast is rounded out by Harriet Dyer and Aldis Hodge as Emily and James, who both do good work with the screen time they have, and Michael Dorman injecting just the right amount of creepiness into his role as Adrian’s brother Tom.

There are a few quibbles, such as the gimmicky opening titles and one Scooby Doo-esque moment, but overall this is an interesting take on an old classic with a compelling central performance from Moss.

What else can I say, other than recommend you go and see The Invisible Man… you know what I mean.

Conor Brennan

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February 2020
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