FILM REVIEW – THE INVISIBLE MAN. With Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid. Written and directed by Leigh Whannell. Rated R for some strong bloody violence, and language. 124 minutes.
Sleeping With The (Invisible) Enemy
Universal Pictures was once well-known for its monster movies in the 1930s and 40s, with Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and the Invisible Man in their stable of staples. Some of these movies became classics while later entries seemed like phoned-in cash grabs. A few years ago, the studio announced they were going to reintroduce these characters to 21st century audiences in a shared concept dubbed “Dark Universe.” Then, after the 2014 disappointment “Dracula Untold” and the 2017 flop “The Mummy” came out, the powers that be decided that maybe that wasn’t what audiences wanted after all.
Which brings us to the new THE INVISIBLE MAN, a movie with only a tangential relation to the H. G. Wells novel or the 1933 movie. And that’s all to the good. Taking the concept of a man being able to turn himself invisible, writer-director (and “Saw” creator) Leigh Whannell then turns it on its head by making the story not about him, but about the woman he terrorizes. The only universe this film is in is signified by the hashtag #MeToo.
Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) is in an abusive relationship with wealthy scientist Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). At the film’s start she manages to escape with the help of her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) and mutual friend James (Aldis Hodge) who works for the police. She’s in such bad shape that she goes into hiding, fearful that he will somehow find her and force her to return. Then she receives word that he has committed suicide and left her a substantial amount of money, contingent upon her keeping her sanity and not committing a crime.
It seems suspicious and, of course it is. As strange things start happening, she finds out he has faked his death and is now stalking her in a suit that renders him invisible. This not only puts her in fear of her life but makes those around her wonder about her mental stability. After all, no one can see the source of her peril.
The film has two things going for it. First are the special effects. It’s a mix of old school practical effects and modern CGI mesh to make us “see” the invisible Adrian. Just as important, if not more so, is Moss who carries the weight of the film as the story is really about her journey and struggle. What’s impressive is that she has scenes “with” Adrian where she’s really on screen all by herself.
“The Invisible Man” is rated R for “some strong bloody violence” and deservedly so. There are scenes where the squeamish may want to shut their eyes. The on-screen killings are key to the story but will be hard to take for some viewers.
It may be sound oxymoronic, however if you’re a horror/thriller fan, you will want to see this “Invisible Man.”•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His latest novel is Father of the Bride of Frankenstein. He is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award given by the New England Science Fiction Association. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.