The Invisible Man
Guest review by Kim Morrison
Director: Leigh Whannell
Release Date: 28th February 2020
Our Rating: ★★★★★
A stress- filled ride
From the minute The Invisible Man opens on a shot of Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) lying in bed with her husband, focusing intently on the time of her bedside clock, we know we’re in for a stress-filled ride. The opening of any horror movie is important to set the tone of what we’re getting for the next couple of hours, and I’d be impressed if anyone was able to breathe during those opening ten minutes as Cecilia makes her (almost) silent escape from her house and her abusive husband. And the truth is, the tension never gives up until the credits roll.
After Cecilia leaves Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), he appears to commit suicide, leaving his fortune to Cecilia and finally freeing her of the crushing fear he inflicted on her. However, Adrian is a very talented scientist, and when strange things start happening to Cecilia, she starts to believe he may have faked his own death and made himself invisible in order to continue to emotionally and physically abuse her.
When the villain of your film is largely invisible, you might think it would be challenging to create a successful horror movie. We’re so used to seeing killers stalking their prey – a face peering through a window, a shape disappearing behind a hedge, a movement in the distance – that having no visible villain feels like it would be a problem. However, Leight Whannell manages the whole situation perfectly.
There’s the faint electric crackle that Cecilia hears in Adrian’s lab as she makes her escape that then seems to follow her around throughout the film, suggesting that she’s not as alone as she may appear. There are also so many beautiful shots where the
camera pans to an apparently empty section of the room, or scenes where Cecilia is off in the corner of the frame while the rest of the shot seems empty than left me straining my eyes, waiting for something to happen.
Adrian’s threat is constant.
You’re always waiting for him to attack and show himself. Even with this constant vigilance he manages to surprise you and cause more than a few shocking moments.
Rather than relying on jump scares. Though there are a couple of perfectly-placed ones. Whannell makes us feel the constant unease that mirrors the way Cecilia must have felt every day of her marriage to Adrian.
An all too real horror
While the story is based in the world of horror, the real scares come from the fact that situations like Cecilia’s come up all too frequently in the real world. Even if the attacker isn’t invisible, it can be a struggle for women to be believed and feel safe.
Outside of the sci-fi the story may seem fantastical, but most of the things Cecilia come across are an accurate representation of an abusive relationship. Cecilia is cut off from the people who love her, gaslit to make her doubt herself, and isolated to the point where the only constant in her life is Adrian. It’s difficult to watch and vital that we do.
Moss is a superstar
Elisabeth Moss is fantastic as Cecilia, successfully portraying the desperation of a woman who just wants to be believed, and the determination to get people to believe her despite the odds being stacked in her favour. She never gives up, never stops fighting, and never stops trying to outsmart Adrian. She knows he will never leave her alone and let her be happy without him around.
Horror as a genre is well-known for taking real-life issues and reflecting them back to us on the cinema screen. The Invisible Man does a fantastic job diving deeper into domestic abuse and showing us what these victims live through everyday. It never shies away from the darker moment, but at the same time it never feels over the top or like its exploiting the topic. The Invisible Man feels like a horror film that will be a vital watch for audiences in the future. It uses the medium to address vital issues and ensures that it’s something we never stop talking about or recognising as a problem.
The Invisible Man is the perfect horror movie if you’re a fan of the classics but enjoy a re-imagining with a modern twist and more tension than you can shake a stick at.
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