We are first introduced to Cecilia, played by Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), tiptoeing out of an expensive waterfront home, very careful not to wake up the man she had been sleeping with. As she hastily makes her exit with the aid of her sister, Emily, we are left wondering why did she leave and whom did she leave? It is later revealed the man she left was brilliant optics inventor/entrepreneur, Adrian Griffin, and she left him because he controlled every facet of her life. While Cecilia attempts to recover from her traumatic relationship at the home of a childhood friend, your friendly neighborhood cop James, it is reported that Adrian has died – no one to be scared of now, right? As Cecilia encounters a series of strange anomalies, she begins to believe Adrian is not so much dead, but invisible…duh duh dduuhh!
The Invisible Man is a fantastic modernization of the 1933 original – both the revision of the story and the technology used serve to produce a fresh and original experience. The power of the film stems from the dread of not knowing where the enemy will strike next, utilizing this aspect successfully to produce crafty scares. The Invisible Man steadily builds up suspense and intensity reminiscent of the first Paranormal Activity, as while both films are stylistically disparate, they both make use of the unseen to torture their protagonists, whether that be an invisible man or a ghost. What starts out as a stove turned up too hot, or a blanket pulled off, turns into riveting and violent action sequences that are comparable to the 2018 sleeper hit, Upgrade, which director Leigh Whannell also helmed.
From an acting standpoint, Elisabeth Moss carries this film; she is faced with the difficult task of often acting as if there is someone in the room with her, when there actually isn’t. I cannot imagine it was easy to pretend to wrestle with a man on the floor when that man is made of air. Bravo to both the imagination of Elisabeth Moss and the stunt team, as in lesser hands this film would’ve appeared to be silly but is instead very convincing. Aldis Hodge as James also puts in solid support work.
For a consistently compelling film, I found the ending to be disappointing, especially relative to how smart the rest of the direction was. Otherwise, the scares are never cheap, and the twists are always genuine. After nearly tripling its budget in its opening weekend, The Invisible Man is an example of how cost-effective and profitable strong filmmaking can be – who needs fancy CGI when you can have Elisabeth Moss and floating knives? 8/10