The Invisible Man (2020)
What You Can’t See Can Hurt You
Leigh Whannell’s update on the 1933 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ science-fiction horror is a stunningly twisted thriller that authentically tackles timely subject matter of domestic abuse. In this 2020 version of The Invisible Man, suspense is crafted masterfully, proving that sometimes it’s what you don’t see that can be most frightful.
Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) makes an effort to restore her life after escaping an abusive relationship with wealthy optics expert Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Upon hearing of Adrian’s suicide, she makes great strides and finally feels free, reconnecting and moving in with an old friend, James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid), and confiding in her sister Harriet (Emily Kass). But things take a turn shortly after Adrian’s death. A series of strange coincidences require Cecilia to prove that she is not going insane but, in fact, being stalked by an invisible man.
Though the story’s been rehashed a few times (The Mummy, Hollow Man), Whannell’s version delves into new territory, instead of recycling what we’ve already seen. An effective opening scene matched with a powerful musical score draws in audiences right away, and from there are witness to a baneful game of cat and mouse. Instead of taking a supernatural approach, the invisibility in the film is achieved through technology, a bodysuit made of lenses and cameras, making for a realistic and terrifying feature. A few scenes in the first half of the movie are a tad draggy, but for the most part suspense is built at a perfect pace. One unexpectedly horrifying scene around the midway point was enough to make a seasoned horror fan gasp.
A major difference from previous versions, the film lets audiences experience the story through the victim’s point of view. Elisabeth Moss is cast perfectly as the vulnerable yet resilient, Cecilia. Through her petrified facial expressions and jerky reactions, she’s impressively convincing as a traumatized survivor of an abusive marriage. The character of Adrian isn’t quite fleshed out enough and we aren’t shown much of his and Cecilia’s backstory, but given how believable Moss is in her role, such scenes were likely considered unnecessary. Besides Moss, hunky Aldis Hodge has the most screen time as the supportive friend and it’s hard to watch as he starts to doubt Cecilia’s unimaginable claims about her husband not only being alive but invisible.
This smart, tech-driven adaptation of H.G. Wells classic novel, provides endless tension and proves that audiences can be shocked by more than jump scares. With a fearless, bold new direction, The Invisible Man is no average reboot, but instead an early contender for best horror film of the year.