'The Invisible Man' Is a Masterful Horror of Domestic Abuse Directed by Leigh Whannell
Starring Elizabeth Moss, Storm Reid, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Aldis Hodge
Published Feb 27, 2020Any film that lingers over Elisabeth Moss's face, that gives her time, is a good film and The Invisible Man is one.
Based loosely on an old story of the same name by H. G. Wells, The Invisible Man gives us something, though borrowed, very new. Those expecting a sci-fi thriller will get an intense horror film with a slight sci-fi bent — no surprise, given that Invisible Man writer/director Leigh Whannell, along with James Wan, brought us Saw in all its bloody, frenetic, franchised glory.
Moss plays Cecilia Kass, wife of Silicon Valley tech dude and pathological narcissist Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Cecilia is a trained architect, but she hasn't worked since her marriage to Adrian. She is intelligent, vibrant and loving, but broken down by Adrian, who physically and sexually abuses her.
After Cecilia manages to escape her domestic situation, her husband appears to die by suicide, but Cecilia suspects that he's using one of his tech inventions to invisibly stalk and torture her.
Whannell's clever move is to turn the perspective on Wells' tale around — while of the original story's protagonist was a violent and selfish scientist, Whannell follows a woman being tormented by such violence. The invisible abuser allows the movie to realistically and metaphorically depict the trauma that abuse victims carry. Whannell creates tension from negative space in the way that an abused mind becomes increasingly paranoid in absence of the abuser, seeing monsters lurking in shadows, around every corner.
To a certain extent, The Invisible Man falls into a "women in peril" subgenre with the likes of Sleeping With the Enemy or Enough, but it does feel timely and important. Whannell deploys all of his deft ability to make the mundane petrifying, while allowing Moss to do her thing in every frame she's in. You can see the gears of her architect's mind turning near the film's end. The Invisible Man is worth a watch, if you're up for an intense, scary trip.
(Blumhouse / Universal)