When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
The Invisible Man has always been one of my favorites of the Universal monsters. What makes the character so compelling is that he’s a flesh and blood human, he’s not a vampire or a werewolf. He’s a ruthless psychopath with a power that makes him incredibly dangerous and formidable. Previous attempts to bring the Universal monsters into the modern-day have fallen flat and left little to be desired.
With this new take on the classic story, director Leigh Whannell brings us a fresh and timely take on the story written by H.G Wells over 120 years ago. This new film breaks new ground by giving us a great horror film that explores just how dangerous a psychopath would be if he had the power of invisibility. The film follows Cecilia Kass (Elizabeth Moss) a woman desperate to escape her abusive boyfriend wealthy scientist Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson- Cohen). Shortly after escaping Cecilia is told that Adrain has committed suicide and has left her a sum of his fortune. This should be great news but strange occurrences begin to follow Cecilia who suspects Adrian’s suicide was faked and he is now stalking her by achieving the ability to become invisible.
First off this is Elizabeth Moss’s movie, she gives a truly stellar performance of a woman who has been through absolute hell. She gives off the feeling that I’m sure survivors of abuse go through, the fear that they’re tormentor is still out there and they live in a prison inside of their mind as long as their abuser is still out there. What made the performance work was how uneasy and anxious Cecilia feels throughout the film.
Even just going outside to get the mail feels like an epic journey through hell for her, as she only feels safe behind locked doors. This feeds into the dread and anxiety felt throughout the film anytime she has the sensation of being watched, yet no one is there. Adrian feeds off this fear and haunts Cecilia’s entire existence like a ghost that can’t be stopped. Probably the most frightening aspect of the film is when Cecilia insists to others that she is being stalked by Adrain, no one believes her. This perfectly mirrors real-life fears of survivors and the fear they face when coming forward, that no one will believe them. This is what sets this film apart from previous attempts to bring the Universal monsters to the modern-day. This time the film centers around a real-life terror in the world and uses the monster to tell a story that is both relatable and relevant.
The Invisible man himself (Oliver Jackson- Cohen) is only seen a few times throughout the film for obvious reasons. But when he is he is truly terrifying. Adrian Griffin is a complete narcissist and psychopath. He has this insane need to control everything and everyone in his life, which is why he’s so obsessed with Cecilia, she won’t let him control her. Griffin doesn’t see her as a person, to him she is an object for him to control and dominate. That’s why he became invisible to torment her and drive her back to him.
He is ruthless, psychotic and just plain terrifying. The method of invisibility which I will not spoil is very different from the original film and book but works very well at building tension and bringing believability to the process. The direction of the process of invisibility brings up feelings of anxiety throughout the film, there are several shots where Cecilia and the audience can’t see Griffin but might catch a glimpse of his breath in the air, or see an object move ever so slightly to make you wonder if it even moved at all. By the time I left the theater, I began wondering to myself just how dangerous invisibility would be if a psychopath possessed that ability.
The Invisible Man is the first great horror film of the year. It is a fast-paced and dread infused thrill ride that lives you checking behind your shoulder when you leave the theater. This is a perfect example of how to do a horror remake well. Take the basic concept of the original and place the new story around a fear that modern audiences can relate too. In this case the horrors of abusive relationships and the fear of stalkers. My hope is this is the future of the Universal monsters. Pick a modern fear or problem in society and build a story around it with whichever monster best represents that fear. This is the best remake I’ve seen in a long time, Elizabeth Moss is amazing and I can’t recommend it enough. Check it out just make sure no one is sitting in the empty seat next to you.