Elizabeth Moss has been one to watch since she first graced the screen in Madmen. If her award-worthy work on Handmaid’s Tale wasn’t enough, she’s been popping up in films like Us and Her Smell, slowly building a career as a formidable force. She’s always been ready to lead feature films, and Invisible Man helps prove it.
Unlike other monster-flick reboots that go with a hokey premise or a full-on rework of the original concept (RIP the ill-conceived Dark Universe), The Invisible Man is a deeply personal and grounded story dealing with Cecilia Kass’ (Moss) escape from an abusive relationship. The film is tense right off the bat, as her literal escape from their home is wonderfully filmed, and sets the tone for the rest of the tale.
You always have a feeling that Moss is being watched, which is highly unsettling, especially when mixed with Benjamin Wallfisch’s score and exemplary sound editing work. This is “Worrying: The Movie,” but it’s a little more than just tension and Moss’ personal journey. There’s a decent mystery to be solved and at least one shocking twist: do not watch any trailers going in if you haven’t already.
It’s been a long while since a horror movie really sat with me a full day after seeing it, but I’m still thinking about Invisible Man. Moss’ heart and soul goes into this performance, where he’s largely acting in front of empty spaces, made even more dramatic by director Leigh Whannell and cinematographer Stefan Duscio’s creative choices. It very rarely gets silly (and with a runtime of a little over two hours, there’s some padding to be done), but when it does, you immediately snap back to reality following a particularly hectic scene. In a way, the sometimes implausible moments feedback into the narrative cleverly.
I still can’t believe that this was somehow salvaged from the train-wreck that became the Dark Universe series, which was originally supposed to start with Dracula Untold, which was quietly shuffled to 2017’s The Mummy as the “actual start” (and eventual finish). Invisible Man strikes several chords given its strong emotional resonance and its effectiveness as a raw thriller.
This is the way to do a reboot: stylishly, with talent, and focusing on a reasonable budget. Not everything that glitters from Blumhouse Productions is gold, but they managed to single-handedly salvage Universal’s “monster film” project with their light touch. Let’s hope some executive meddling doesn’t ruin our chances at more takes like this one.