Having grown up watching the Universal Pictures horror movies, I always like checking out the updated versions that come out. Some of them, like THE MUMMY (1999). Others like DRACULA UNTOLD or VAN HELSING, not so much. I understood what they were trying to do with the whole Dark Universe concept but honestly, the execution was lacking it it was for the best that they shelved it and let the properties do their own thing. Especially since it gives us this latest adaptation of the HG Wells classic THE INVISIBLE MAN.
Unlike the original novel and movie, this film isn’t about the descent of a scientist into madness after turning himself invisible. Here we find Cecilia Kass (the amazing Elizabeth Moss) trying to escape from an abusive and controlling relationship with an optics scientist named Adrian Griffin. Cecilia drugs him and with the help of her sister and a police detective, she manages to get out of the relationship and try to start her life over. When she finds out from Tom Griffin, Adrian’s brother, that Adrian has killed himself and left her five million dollars in a trust, it seems like the nightmare she was in is finally over.
Until she starts feeling another presence in the house, that is. But is it actually Adrian in a suit that somehow turns him invisible, or is she going insane? When her personal life begins to fall apart from the strange happenings, Cecilia knows that she must get to the bottom of the mystery before it destroys her.
After the bombast of previous Universal Pictures films featuring the classic horror monsters, THE INVISIBLE MAN dials it way down in tone and budget and hits us with a movie that is as much a character study of a woman escaping an abusive relationship and the long term damage it does as it is a horror movie. Since it is called THE INVISIBLE MAN, we have a pretty good hunch that Cecilia isn’t just imagining things, but the way the film likes to linger on rooms creates a fantastic disquiet that is unnerving and a perfect way to instill unease in the viewer before the action starts. Writer/director Leigh Whannell masterfully turns the safety of a suburban home into a nightmare that houses an unseen enemy and builds up some fantastic tension before allowing it all to break in a gripping climax. The abuse thrown and Cecilia is rough and breaks down the life that she is trying to rebuild one step at a time in an attempt to control her. Credit for the selling of this goes in no small part to Moss, who transforms Cecilia into a fully fleshed-out character. What she does in the role is amazing, ranging from the fear and trepidation she displays as she tries to make her escape from Adrian in the beginning to the relief when she finds out he’s dead and then to the despair she feels when she realizes he might not be dead after all. Moss handles it all perfectly and I wouldn’t be surprised if she snagged a ton of awards for this role.
I enjoy that they didn’t go crazy with the effect in the movie too. The budget helped limit the amount of CGI they could use and thus we were allowed more practical and subtle scares. It also means that when they do break out the CGI, it hits that much harder when used as a scare. There’s not a ton of gore but the scenes that feature it are pretty damn unnerving and shows you that this invisible man is not messing around when it comes to messing with Cecilia. The movie is also a bit of a mystery, as with Adrian dead, we aren’t quite sure who is the man in the suit. Could it be his brother, who hates Adrian as much as Cecilia does? Is it a mystery actor or is Adrian really just not dead?
All in all it is a fantastic movie that deserves as many eyes on it as possible so you too can experience the dread and tension that will have you checking your own house to make sure there isn’t an invisible man lurking right behind you.
Check it out.