Horror has been carving out a nice place for itself in the dead of winter the past few years. 2020’s entry, ‘The Invisible Man’, takes the February baton from ‘The Witch’ and ‘Get Out’ as another example of well-crafted fare with more than just effective scares on its mind. Leigh Whannell, who has moved from penning genre fare to developing a unique style as a director (see 2018s ‘Upgrade’), unites with an always remarkable Elizabeth Moss to elevate one of the classic Universal monsters to truly frightening levels.
In a smart move, this version of the classic intellectual property flips the focus from the mad scientist to his victim. In this case it’s Cecilia (Moss), ‘C’, as those close to her call her. In the opening wordless sequence, she stages a planned escape from her abusive boyfriend, the titular ‘Man’. Whannell shoots this scene with assured exposition abandon, its framing within a highly stylized California coast estate, architecturally replete with expansive picture windows and the sounds of waves crashing outside, echoing the mood-setting opening credits. He trusts his game actor Moss to convey all the information needed, that she is desperate to escape, and has formulated an intricate plan to do so. The only question remaining is whether or not she can pull it off.
From there on the film takes interesting twists and turns, but the focus never leaves Moss’s Cecilia. Due to the subject matter and the perspective flip, ‘The Invisible Man’ becomes a thriller for the times, technology being used against the individual and the manipulation of truth. Like all great horror, these themes are used effectively, but hand in hand with the technique of audience manipulation. Whannell knows that horror/thriller fans understand the language of this type of movie, and he uses this knowledge in an astounding way. A true SURPRISE, indeed . . .
Written & Directed By: Leigh Whannell
Running Time: 124 min.
* * * (out of 4 stars) -OR- B