The Invisible Man - Movie review

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man - Movie review

Director Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man is perhaps one of those cases where the movie title doesn’t really do justice to the plot. Sure, it’s pretty straightforward—a sociopathic rich guy finds a way to become invisible, stages his death, and haunts his abused ex—but at first glance, the title may also create a certain prejudice; a feeling of “I’ve seen this movie before!”

Well, you probably haven’t. At least, not this way. Yes, the premise is rather played out (remember the horrific sci-fi/thriller Hollow Man, starring Kevin Bacon?) but the director manages to take that centuries-old idea and make something totally new out of it. 

The story and screenplay are also written by Whannell himself, which explains the seamless vision that makes this movie feel so ‘complete.’ For starters, the details in the narrative convince the audience that the story does not simply depend on “well, then he goes invisible.” There’s a backstory that’s not necessarily spoon-fed to us the way Hollywood seems to be a fan of—it is subtle but strongly present, like a puzzle piece the viewer needs to find and put in place.

Then, there’s the unique visual language, the outcome of the directorial talent Leigh Whannell proved to possess in his 2018 movie Upgrade. That one pretty much flew under the radar back in its day, but it showed some of the first examples of the director’s tense, unsettling style, marked in The Invisible Man by slow pans, long stares into empty spaces, the use of ambient music or complete silence, and an overall feeling of eeriness.

Speaking of which, it is safe to say that this is not a horror movie in the traditional sense. It could very well be defined as a psychological thriller instead; one that does not drift too far from reality, but masterfully enriches it with mind games.

The stellar acting performance of Elisabeth Moss as the abused and traumatized Cecilia is arguably what makes this sci-fi story so believable. She begins this journey as a self-proclaimed “suburban girl” who’s afraid to leave her house and makes the viewer root for her at every stage of her character’s transformation, presented to us through skillfully acted scenes of self-assurance, alleged madness, and conviction.

This is obviously not a suitable choice for a cozy family movie night. But surprisingly, it is not your familiar, action-packed, three-act mystery flick, either. It does contain some obvious Chekhov’s gun moments (that you still get to enjoy when they come into play later on) and a few loose ends in the plot, but those seem to be far from unintentional. The Invisible Man is a modern example of how old-school masters of suspense would probably explore this premise; a mostly bleak setting, a cold color palette, and a lot of nervous anticipation.

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Updated 2 years ago