Review: THE INVISIBLE MAN is a harrowing thriller for the #MeToo era
“He said that wherever I went, he would find me. Walk right up to me, and I wouldn’t be able to see him.”
THE INVISIBLE MAN, Universal Studios' most recent attempt to re-introduce their iconic horror monsters to the modern age, released over the weekend and is a heart-pounding, relentlessly terrifying, anxiety-inducing, thrill ride of a film that will keep you checking your pulse and looking around you in a paranoid fit long after you leave the theater...
THE INVISIBLE MAN, written and directed by Leigh Whannell, is based off the classic H.G. Wells novel that inspired the 1933 Claude Rains film, and countless others.
Trapped in a violent and controlling relationship with esteemed tech optics billionaire Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), his girlfriend Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) makes a daring escape from his Malibu beachside prison-home thanks to her sister.
Now living with a friend of her sister's, LAPD Detective James Lanier (Aldis Hodge), Cecilia is paranoid and terrified that her mentally, sexually, and physically abusive boyfriend Adrian will come find her, she can hardly even step outside...but relief comes shortly after her escape when she receives word that Adrian, in a fit of rage and grief, took his own life.
Soon, though, after a series of bizarre occurrences, she begins to feel like she's being watched. She begins to feel hunted. Is there someone there, out of the corner of her eye? Or is it just her imagination?
THE INVISIBLE MAN is a triumph of a film and made me feel like an absolute mess after. My stomach turned and my grip tightened at every shot of a seemingly empty living room, or unoccupied couch or chair. You begin to wonder, are you going insane too, as you look for this invisible specter?
The use of negative space keeps the suspense high, and director Whannell's command of the camera and mood becomes as oppressing and controlling of the audience as Adrian himself seemed to be to our main character.
The decision to show the film through the perspective of The Invisible Man's victim, and making her so uncomfortable to watch, adds a new layer of terror to the mythos. While typically the Invisible Man is at best a sympathetic antagonist and at worst a power-mad loon, in this he is strictly a sadistic hunter. A brutal, controlling, egotist. His lack of presence give him, in the end, a larger than life one. He could be anywhere in the film at any time...or he couldn't be. The audience is in his hands.
The “invisibility” in this is explained through a highly advanced technical suit comprised of millions of tiny hexagonal camera lenses that, I assume seem to reflect and display surroundings from 360 complete degrees. The end result, once the costume becomes visible in the film's grand and bloody climax, is horrific looking- a moving, trypophobic, cyber-horror monstrosity.
The key player here might be “Handmaiden's Tale” and “Mad Men” actress Elisabeth Moss, who is unafraid to be shown wearing no make-up with puffy eyes, greasy and unwashed hair, and blotched skin as she descends into “madness”. Her abusive ex, the titular Invisible Man, is played in a small role by Oliver Jackson-Cohen, who does a lot with his limited screen time.
The real star, however, is the sound. The soundtrack is done by Benjamin Wallfisch and is utterly horrifying, similar to the man's ear-shattering and nail biting composition from films like A CURE FOR WELLNESS, IT Chapters One and Two, BLADE RUNNER 2049, and his work alongside composers like Hans Zimmer (DUNKIRK) and Junkie XL (Batman v Superman). Every scene is so intimately crafted to startle you and terrify you...even if you try and close your eyes.
THE INVISIBLE MAN is a stunning reinvention of Universal's classic horror films, and is a bold, artistic, step forward in what to expect from the inevitable reboots of icons like Dracula, The Wolfman, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and more, proving that the same figures that haunted the dreams of your parents and grandparents are back, in force, to haunt yours.
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