Release Date: February 28, 2020
Directed by: Leigh Wannell
Cast: Elizabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer
Rating: 3/4 Stars
[The following review is spoiler-free]
Remakes, retellings, and reimaginings. We’ve all heard it before. Among the throng of retooled and rebooted material that continues to flood the market today, it’s refreshing to come across those few that not only lend themselves to being entertaining, but also give credence to relevancy in a more socially-inclined and aware culture. As for Blumhouse’s 2020 take on the literary classic, The Invisible Man combines efforts and talents that succeed as a whole.
Set in contemporary times, The Invisible Man has viewers thrusted into Cecilia’s (Elizabeth Moss) escape from a brilliantly intelligent and abusive, narcissistic romantic partner named Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). After successfully finding shelter under a friend, and with the assistance of her sister and legal representative, Emily (Harriet Dyer), news breaks out of Adrian’s untimely (and uncharacteristic) death. Confused, and attempting to shake off Adrian’s controlling grasp that continues to haunt her, Cecilia learns she has become a beneficiary to a generous amount of money from his estate. Upon her reluctant acceptance, strange things begin to occur throughout her daily routine: important documents go missing, items reappear from long ago, and emails are sent to others unbeknownst to her. Despite the unexplainable nature of it all to everyone else, Cecilia becomes convicted of Adrian’s real presence and soon finds herself back on a plight for survival from a familiar and now unseen threat.
Leigh Wannell, who previously directed a surprise hit in 2018’s Upgrade, employs the frequent use of camera shots lingering and holding onto still, empty spaces that encourage viewers to question whether someone is there or not—much like our main lead. Pacing is deliberately slow during the build-up to important revelations, and the film ratchets up in intensity as the film moves toward its conclusion. Acting is consistently serviceable to the plot and nature of the film, and Elizabeth Moss stands out in a great leading performance that stirs just enough care and concern for her well-being despite not knowing all the details. Regarding narrative, a mild level of disbelief is to be had as certain choices are made that would question some good old-fashioned logic, but it doesn’t prove too distracting to an otherwise fairly solid script.
Overall, The Invisible Man is a well-done and effective thriller. More could have been pulled into the narrative to give further backstory to the relationship and themes explored, but The Invisible Man delivers in its suspense and surprise as it highlights a wide variety of issues including intimate partner violence and mental health. I’ve seen the film twice now (once in the theatre, and once again at home via streaming) and I’ve got to admit the film had lost some of its luster for me on a second viewing, only slightly. Regardless, The Invisible Man is worth a watch for those looking for a dramatic and thrilling time.
The Invisible Man is rated R for some strong bloody violence, and language. Due to the recent pandemic at play, The Invisible Man is currently available to stream exclusively via select platforms. Check with your streaming services to see if it’s available to watch at this time.