The Invisible Man (2020)

“What you can’t see can hurt you.”

Directed by Leigh Whannell
Starring Elisabeth Moss (Us), Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures), Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time), Harriet Dyer (Killing Ground), Michael Dorman (Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge) and Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Raven)

Cecilia Kass (Moss) leaves her abusive boyfriend, wealthy optics specialist Adrian Griffin (Jackson-Cohen), with the help of her sister Emily (Dyer) . Two weeks later, hiding out with Emily’s friend James (Hodge) and his teenage daughter Sydney (Reid), she learns that Adrian has committed suicide, and learns from his brother Tom (Dorman) that Adrian left her five million dollars and a passive aggressive letter. Initially feeling liberated, a series of incidents cause Cecelia to believe that Adrian is stalking her, having found a way to become invisible.

Alienated from her friends by a poison pen email sent from her computer to Emily, and an invisible assault on Sydney, Cecilia finds an invisibility suit at Adrian’s house, but is framed for murder when she tries to tell Emily, and committed to a secure treatment centre. Goading her tormentor into reach, she is able to damage the suit, and ultimately overcome him, revealling the unseen tormentor to be Tom, while Adrian is found imprisoned at the house, but Cecilia will not believe that Tom could have overcome his brother.

What’s wrong with it?

Checkov’s optical lab.

I have complicated feelings about the invisibility suit. The science is no less bullshit than Hawley Griffin’s depigmenting serum, but I feel like biochemistry is the classic.

Speaking of the suit, does it have some sort of strength boosting property? Because the invisible man really hurls people about for a tech bro who lifts a bit, let alone a spineless lawyer.

What’s right with it?

Checkov’s kitchen knife.

Conversely, the use of a suit, and the consequent transferability of the invisibility, is fundamental to the story that the film is telling.

Cecilia’s terror and strength are palpable presences in the movie. Moss is the core of the movie, and a powerful one.

The film lingers on empty space, making no attempt to pretend that anyone in the audience doesn’t know that there is going to be an invisible man in The Invisible Man, and using that to frame incredibly awkward and unsettling shots of literally nothing.

In eschewing the original Griffin’s schemes for world domination for the story of a woman facing the actualisation of the seeming omnipresence of an abusive and controlling partner, the film both modernises and personalises the story in an extremely compelling fashion.

How bad is it really?

I spent a lot of this film worrying about James and Sydney, as I was clearly intended to.

This film is brilliant, and I never want to see it again. Even knowing how it ends, and without any real jump scares, I don’t think my nerves could manage those long shots of nothing and I am not even joking.

Best bit (if such there is)?

Funnily enough, there aren’t many pictures of the invisible man.

Cecilia makes to cut her wrists in the shower, in what feels like an act of both defiance and surrender, but is revealled to be a lure to bait Griffin into acting directly to prevent her taking this fragment of control back. It’s a brutal, yet brilliant moment of catharsis and agency.

What’s up with…?

  • The openy-closey eye cameras on the suit? It’s so damn creepy.

Ratings

Production values – Predominantly practical effects, coupled with strong physical performances, give this the look of a contemporary drama instead of a glossy science fiction or horror piece. 4
Dialogue and performances – Anchored on a powerhouse performance from Moss, ably supported by a strong cast, this would be unsettling enough as a drama without any invisible suits. 5
Plot and execution – The original story – which is itself much smaller in scale than its antagonist’s grandiose plans – is deftly trasnfered to a modern story of power, abuse and control. 4
Randomness – The eye cameras! 5
Waste of potential – While moving well away from some of the specifics of the original, this keeps the themes of power and accountability, and produces an effective and chilling thriller. 3

Overall 21%

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