by Charles Kirkland Jr.
Elisabeth Moss is very convincing as she brings to life the latest part of the Universal monsters universe, The Invisible Man.
Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) has literally just escaped the clutches of her abusive boyfriend, Adrian Griffin and hides from his with her sister’s boyfriend, James Lanier (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid). Two weeks after her flight into hiding, Cecilia is informed that Adrian, the inventor, has killed himself. In a strange twist, Adrian leaves five million tax-free dollars to Cecilia, with the provision that she is not convicted of committing any crime. While those around her celebrate Cecilia’s new-found fortune, she suspects something insane, Adrian is not dead but found a way to make himself invisible.
Written and directed by Leigh Whannell (Saw, Upgrade, Insidious) based upon a novel by H.G. Wells, The Invisible Man stars Moss, Hodge, Reid, along with Michael Dorman, Sam Smith, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen.
The Invisible Man is more than a horror movie, it is a nightmare movie. The concept itself is frightening, an abusive and controlling man finds a way to continue to torment a woman even though she has tried to remove herself from the abusive relationship. No one can stop him because they never see him. Leigh Whannell is a modern-day master of suspense and horror having created both the Saw and Insidious franchises and the movie that he has crafted is on the same level as either one of these films in the department of suspenseful horror. He creatively uses empty spaces and music and sounds and silence all to drag the audience into the plight of poor Cecilia. Going into the film, everyone knows that Adrian is there but despite that knowledge, Whannell still puts viewers on the edge of their seats.
While Whannell should get a load of credit for his writing and direction, this movie succeeds mostly due to the fantastic work of Elisabeth Moss. While some may be tempted into overacting, Moss’s wide-eyed, shallow breathing with nervous ticks are subtle but totally convincing enough to convey the fear (and PTSD?) that her character is experiencing. While the character he plays has none of the depth that his roles in Brian Banks or Clemency, Aldis Hodge is also very convincing as the cop that truly wants to believe Cecilia but has to make sure that his daughter is safe.
Golden Globe nominee Benjamin Wallfisch (Hidden Figures) turns in a creepy complement to the film with a fantastic soundtrack. Alternating between a combination of synthesizer sounds and the London Symphony Orchestra, Wallfisch accentuates the fear on the screen and sometimes manufactures it. Although at one time, the music seemed to be a little overwhelming to the film, for the most part, it lies there just beneath the surface, almost imperceptible.
February is slowly becoming the go-to month for horror films with Whannell’s Blumhouse stablemate, Jordan Peele releasing films in this genre in the last two years. Any of these films could have been a summer blockbuster and surely this movie is boundlessly superior to any of its Universal monster universe mates, maybe Universal would be wise to hand the universe over to Whannell and crew and carve out February as the month for the horror blockbuster.
Rated R for some strong bloody violence and language, The Invisible Man is a must-see for good, old-fashioned, intelligent and suspenseful horror. This is the one film experience that you did not see coming.