Far from Hollow Man but not nearly as hollow as the trailers would lead one to believe, The Invisible Man is a thrilling two hours that keep you looking at the empty spaces of the frame more often than your average flick demands. Not in appreciation of the production design but because you, much like our heroine, know that invisible bastard is right in that corner… or is he in that one… maybe by the bookshelf…? Ah, damnit…
Cecilia Kass(Elisabeth Moss) is the, apparent, victim of an abusive relationship with Adrian(Oliver Jackson Cohen). One night she musters up the courage to escape and does so only to find herself haunted by him, worried that at any moment he would show up to reclaim her. That is until she finds out that he has committed suicide and is no longer a threat… and has left her five million dollars, which, she gets to keep as long as she follows the number one rule every parolee is all too familiar with. Stay away from criminal activity. Sweet wealthy freedom! Everything seems to be sunshine and peonies for her until she starts feeling a presence that feels all too familiar. Enter Invisible Man who sets out to, not only torment her but alienate her from those around her. What will she do? Probably get clever with some common household items, aka invisi-detectors… coughcoffeecough… in the hopes of proving to everyone that she’s telling the truth.
Sidebar: How dope would it be if the third installment after “The Invisible Woman” is “The Invisible Burglars”? A thriller that takes all the elements we love of the first two, incompetent cops and all, and mashes them up with Home Alone. You get Stormy Reid to reprise the role of Sydney. She’s home… alone… and detective dad James(Aldis Hodge) is stuck in… France… with his new wife and can’t get to her… and they just moved to a new city so he isn’t tight with his fellow brothers in blue from the new precinct so no help there. The traps are all designed to hurt the invisible burglars while revealing them enough for her to protect herself. This stuff writes itself.
Back to why you’re here.
Listen, I will be one of the thousands to admit that I walked into this expecting nothing more than a popcorn flick full of eye-rolling moments and bad dialogue because the trailer seemed to show the entire film in 2.5 minutes and it looked no bueno. I am happy that thats not the case. Leigh Whannell crafts an exciting visual story that takes advantage of what he has at his disposal.
The camera movement enhances the tension while keeping things simple. The film isn’t trying to revolutionize the filming process by any means but there is real thought in the choices made. I can see a world where another director says “Hey, we already have our hands full with the Invisible aspects of this film. Lets just put the camera on sticks(tripod) and call it a day.” I’m glad he didn’t do that.
The score elevates the films tone as it should in a good thriller. There were times where the music felt like it was trying to force an emotion that just wasn’t there but those are few and far between. Keep en ear out for the score in the last shot of the film. That moment had the people in my row looking at each other in equal parts confusion and amusement. I understand what they are trying to convey but… again… forced.
The biggest issues in this film unfortunately come from the screenplay and that is because the biggest barrier to overcome as a viewer is suspension of disbelief, which can be a real issue for many audiences. There are many moments in which you just know things don’t work that way. Physics… blood… wounds… strength… speed… coughcoughpaintcough**… Man, I don’t know what’s up with my throat today… anyway these things just don’t work that way! And I know I’ve hinted at this already but the San Francisco police, security, sheriff’s, state troopers, and detective forces should all be incredibly put off by this film. I can’t imagine anyone representing that group enjoying this one bit.
So many of the issues could have been resolved with some clever directing. “Hey, I know the script says you run to the kitchen but I think it makes more sense if you run to the bathroom and hop in the shower instead.” You would still have to suspend disbelief a bit but not nearly to the degree required by the film.
There really is some good tension throughout the film, but, unfortunately, it peaks at the beginning… which, is not where you want it to peak.
Moss delivers another great performance of course but nothing we don’t already expect from her. She is a great actor, no doubt, and the film relies heavily on her ability to reach a level of insanity that few others can. I do wish we had more Detective James and Sydney scenes. They added much needed levity to the thriller and served as the tethers that reeled her back to the safety and normalcy she needed after she forcefully exited her traumatic relationship.
All-in-all this is a fun way for thriller lovers to spend an evening. Go in with your expectations tampered because this film does not break the mold in any way, but you know what? I’m ok with that. Do you remember Tom Cruise’s The Mummy from 2017? Yeah. That was so bad there were rumors of Universal giving up on their monsters universe for good. Good thing they know what they have.
Say it with me; The Universal Monsters is something we need. It’s a good thing…
Now go see The Invisible Man so that we can one day have the beautiful dark universe the world so desperately needs!