The Invisible Man is a marvelous mix of terror and suspense bolstered by a fantastic performance from Elisabeth Moss. On top of that, Leigh Wannell’s latest project is the most technically sound film so far in 2020. In this era of CGI and overuse of special effects, The Invisible Man is a spectacular example of how camera work and the precise use of sound can be used to elevate the tension in a scene. Remakes like these often fall short and fail to capture the source material’s essence. Wannell’s latest attempt at horror proves to be the exception.
The film centers around Cecilia (Moss) and the aftermath of her escape from her abusive tech mogul boyfriend, played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen. The late-night escape into her sister’s car and subsequent PTSD after the fact will undoubtedly resonate with some who have gone through this. Just as Cecilia seems to be settling down at a friend of her sister’s home played by Aldis Hodge, she then learns that her ex has committed suicide, and she stands to inherit some money. The only stipulation is that she can’t be declared insane or convicted of a crime. With this comes a sense of peace for Cecilia, which is shortlived as she is now being hunted by someone that no one can see.
The characters in The Invisible Man are deftly constructed. There’s nothing hokey about this narrative. Cecilia comes across as someone has been to hell but could rationalize going back if it meant saving the ones she loved. Adrian (Jackson-Cohen) is manipulative, evil, and vindictive. He’s also charming enough to persuade those that he’s not that bad of a guy. The character is a textbook abuser, and at times so real, it was horrifying. The sequences involving the principal actors certainly will allow audiences to draw parallels between the source material and how this invisible force haunts battered women. While some are lucky to get away, they aren’t ever truly free.
The cinematography in The Invisible Man was excellent. Most of the film’s scariest moments weren’t the result of some CGI suit but through the use of camera placement. Stefan Dusico used a mixture of obscure angles, quick camera shots, and framing to enhance the tension of each scene. Without this stellar camera work, the film would have looked foolish. Sound design was equally important as well. Wannell made clever use of ambient noise and creaks in the house to make those terrifying moments pop!
Elisabeth Moss and Oliver Jackson-Cohen were fantastic in the film. Moss, who seems to own every role she undertakes, nails the role of Cecilia. This is a woman who is trying to recover from such trauma and realizes her nightmare has only just begun. Jackson-Cohen’s performance slowly ramps up after a pretty intense opening sequence and reveals the level of depravity he will stoop to terrorize this poor woman.
Overall, The Invisible Man is everything fans of the genre could hope for and could easily breathe new life into Universal’s Dark Universe.