Based on the 1897 novel of the same name by H.G. Wells, this contemporary adaptation fits into the thriller genre more so than its sci-fi origin.
The plot follows Cecilia, played by Elisabeth Moss, who flees a life controlled by her sociopath partner. She is constantly reminded of his threat that he would find her no matter the circumstances and after his apparent death she believes that he has found a way to become invisible, solely to stalk and terrorise her.
Cecilia urges the people around her to trust her, including her close friend and sister, however they begin to dissipate when they think that her mental state is faltering. The film received strong praise for its successful attempt at highlighting the destructive nature of gaslighting as well as toxic and abusive partners.
Best known for her portrayal of “Offred” in the dystopian drama series “The Handmaid’s Tale” for which she won a Golden Globe, Elisabeth Moss’s talent does not go unrecognised.
Once again, she showcases her power of being utterly convincing and continuously impressive in everything she works on. Her vulnerability in the film is remarkable as the story shows the psychological effect on her character, fighting an invisible presence.
The film was both written and directed by Leigh Wannell, a well-known name in Hollywood’s horror films such as “Insidious” and “Saw”.
Wannell uses suggestive camerawork, which is a subtle way to convey the mystery by filming a simple slow pan from Cecilia to a chair, leading the audience to believe something is actually there. You feel as if you are in the room with her, sensing a presence with locked eyes on you at all times.
The intense focus on dark, empty hallways and bare corners in rooms are more chilling than any loud, obnoxious jump scare but the few jump scares that are in the film are justified and definitely effective.
A noticeable flaw in the story is that the character of Adrian, Cecilia’s ex-boyfriend, was not fleshed out enough. Played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen, from the Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House”, a scene from his perspective was necessary to convey an insight into his manipulative and controlling tendencies. More focus on his “optics genius” methods would also have been a welcomed addition to the film as he plays such a significant role.
The music score was unbearably tense and created a tangible “keep you on the edge of your seat” atmosphere in the cinema. The moments of silence were just as powerful, if not more, allowing the feelings of paranoia and fear to steadily grow from start to finish.
“The Invisible Man” is definitely worth seeing on the big screen with others to feel that collective tension that the film insists on. Although in some parts the plot may seem to drag, the overall theme and lead performance make for an unnerving yet enjoyable cinematic experience.
Image Credit: Universal