Aided by a powerhouse performance from Elizabeth Moss, The Invisible Man will leave you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
Making a reboot of a franchise or movie can be either a hit or miss affair. If done well, a reboot can not only pay homage to the original but also add to it and introduce it to a whole new audience. When the opposite happens, the original’s reputation could be tainted, and the reboot would just be a waste of time and money. For The Invisible Man, it’s more of the former rather than the latter. This movie is actually a reboot of a classic Universal monster movie from the 1930s and comes from Blumhouse, the production studio known for modern horror hits such as Insidious and The Conjuring franchises. Add to that the film’s director, Leigh Wannell, who directed the criminally underrated Upgrade (2018) and starring the talented Elisabeth Moss, the results are very good and very promising. The Invisible Man is a tense experience that brings tension and a great performance from Elisabeth Moss.
The movie follows Cecilia Kass, an architect who escapes her abusive boyfriend, Adrian. A few weeks later, Cecilia is informed that Adrian has committed suicide, but strange things start occurring around her which makes her think that Adrian may not be gone and that he’s looking for revenge.
As the name of the movie suggests, the antagonist of the movie is invisible and can’t be seen. Despite this, Elisabeth delivers a powerhouse performance. She’s proven in the past that she’s a talented actress and this movie solidified that further. She runs the gamut of emotions here from abuse victim who’s scared and paranoid to strong heroine determined to stop the bad guy even if people don’t believe her. Cecilia goes through hell and back in this movie and Elisabeth plays that so well. She looks physically tired and being on the verge of unhinged. Despite having no acting partner for most of the movie, she’s able to emote properly and manages to carry the movie throughout most of its run time.
If Upgrade was mostly fast-paced and action-packed, The Invisible Man is slower and methodical. The movie really takes its time to build the tension. There are times when the camera does slow turns and movements around a room as if to say that someone else is in the room beside Cecilia which makes some scenes feel almost creepy. The film does pick up the pace in the latter half and a scene near the end is reminiscent of Upgrade’s fast-paced action and interesting camera work. The film takes it’s time to build the threat of the antagonist and the tension and paranoia that comes with it. This is only director Leigh Wannell’s third movie yet he’s shown that he’s a director that needs to be watched.
The main conflict of the movie has to do with Cecilia’s fight with the invisible man, but the film does allude to other themes, with the most notable one being abusive relationships and what happens to people when they leave it. Cecilia was in an abusive relationship and suffers the pain of it when she leaves him, and the movie explores that dynamic pretty well. Throughout the movie, she struggles to return to a normal life as she is fearful of Adrian’s return. At times, she tells her friends that Adrian used to manipulate her and make her think that she was the crazy one. The film makes a commentary of how leaving an abusive relationship is not easy and the trauma and struggles it takes to get over one, both literally and metaphorically.
The movie delivers on the scares and the tension. You can’t see the antagonist, so the paranoia builds up not only for Cecilia but also for the audience of somebody else being in the room. The film can get intense at times with some scenes showing borderline shocking violence. You don’t know when the next scare is going to happen since there is rarely any warning. It would have been better though if more creative techniques would have been implemented in terms of Cecilia finding the invisible man. Aside from one scene involving white paint, the filmmakers could have probably thought of more out-of-the-box ways for the invisible man to be exposed.
The story itself is nothing groundbreaking. While the movie does have a 21st century take on the premise, most of the story is a bit by the numbers. It’s a kind of movie where you have to suspend your disbelief and just go with the flow. But the ending manages to surprise—and in a good way. No spoilers here, but the ending is done in such a way that it’s debatable in a sense that you’ll be talking about it once the film is over. It’s not an expected ending and you could interpret it in many ways.
Overall, The Invisible Man is a competent reboot of a classic movie. As Blumhouse’s first attempt at rebooting Universal’s classic monsters, they did a good job. It’s a good psychological thriller that’s anchored by an amazing lead actress. Aided by a powerhouse performance from Elisabeth Moss, The Invisible Man will leave you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. The film starts intensely, and it ends equally so. Horror movie fans or those looking for a good scare should give this movie a try.
Rated R-13, The Invisible Man opens in PH cinemas February 26.