It seems that you can teach an old dog new tricks, at least when it comes to classic Universal monster movies. Writer / director Leigh Whannell‘s suspenseful reboot and reimagining of “The Invisible Man” is smart, well-acted, and full of thrills. It’s a surprisingly fresh take on dated source material.
Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) is trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with her wealthy scientist husband Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). After drugging him one night, the terrified woman escapes and disappears, hiding at a policeman friend’s (Aldis Hodge) house. Overcome with loneliness, Adrian commits suicide — but Cecilia suspects his death is a hoax. After a series of creepy coincidences that eventually turn lethal, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she tries desperately to prove she’s being haunted and hunted by an invisible force that happens to be her departed ex.
By telling the story from the woman’s point of view, Whannell has given the film a contemporary feminist spin that makes it all the more haunting and effective. It’s scary because the details of mental abuse by a partner feels so real, as the manipulation and controlling behavior feeds Cecilia’s paranoia. It’s one of the more chilling horror films (or rather, monster movies) that’s come along in quite a while.
Moss makes her performance look effortless as she wrestles with an empty corner of a room or throws punches into the air. Casting a talented actor in the lead role makes all the difference and prevents this from becoming just another hokey Blumhouse production.
Although serious themes like domestic abuse and mental illness are tackled in an honest way, “The Invisible Man” is so entertaining because it achieves the right mix of terror and female empowerment.