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article imageReview: ‘The Invisible Man’ lives in that unshakeable, unsettling feeling Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 28, 2020 in Entertainment
‘The Invisible Man’ is a terrifying update to the classic Universal horror narrative, creating an intense atmosphere that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats as they search for what can’t be seen.
Everyone knows the feeling that someone is watching you… even though you know you’re alone. Or something moves from the location you’re absolutely positive you left it a moment ago. Most people just chalk it up to their mind playing tricks on them. But what if you had reason to believe it’s not just your imagination, but in fact someone else playing a sinister game? A game that causes you to stop trusting yourself and makes other people think you’ve lost your mind? The Invisible Man is doing just that and it’s working dangerously well.
Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) is trapped in an abusive relationship with her husband, Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Planning her escape from their high-security home is as difficult as finding a place to hide where he hopefully can’t find her. Staying with James (Aldis Hodge) and his teenage daughter Sydney (Storm Reid), Cecilia is afraid to even check the mail at the end of their driveway… until she receives word Adrian is dead. Suddenly, the clouds lift and she’s free to begin living her life with a sizeable inheritance to get her started. But then strange things begin to happen — objects moving, a feeling that she’s being watched — and she becomes convinced Adrian is alive… and invisible. Of course, convincing anyone else is an impossible task.
While the teasers suggest the film centres on Cecilia repeatedly claiming “he’s in the room,” it’s actually much more than that and uses the two-hour runtime to explore the idea of being stalked by a mad genius no one can see. Writer/director Leigh Whannell is a seasoned horror filmmaker who understands scaring viewers is about more than just loud bangs and things popping out of the darkness. He knows how to keep audiences on the edge of their seat for an entire picture by creating an intense atmosphere of suspicion and anticipation, surpassing any need to solely rely on jump scares — though he effectively delivers a few of those too. Everything is so subtle at first that when there’s a sudden explosion of violence, viewers are taken aback and left to watch as their shock turns to horror.
The narrative is a mix of Sleeping with the Enemy, The Entity and Hollow Man. Yet, even though there are similarities with those films, the script is still original and surprising. Not much is seen of Adrian (pun unintended) or his research, so audiences can only judge his capacity for Cecilia’s accusations based on her assessment of their relationship and his intellect. But it’s difficult to imagine anyone else tracking and torturing someone with whom they didn’t feel they have an emotional connection. Cecilia, however, is a survivor and she doesn’t need him like he apparently needed her, nor is she willing to surrender to his twisted games.
Moss must carry most of the picture, reacting and selling the malevolent presence of an invisible man, which she does compellingly. However, the strength of her performance is in her portrayal of a battered wife who’s done with her controlling husband, and ready to fight back to retain her freedom and protect her loved ones. The venom she conveys in a single look would stop anyone in their tracks, while her perseverance is more than commendable. She’s smart, strong-minded and determined to put an end to her suffering once and for all.
Whannell takes the common narrative of questioning a tormented woman’s sanity and turns it on its head as Cecilia never wavers in her belief and finds ways to prove her theory. She realizes she can only rely on herself to survive and that Adrian never really took away her power — he just suppressed it until she thought it was gone so she wouldn’t leave him. And she’s not going to let that happen again.
Only pet peeve: has no one ever heard of infrared?
Director: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge and Harriet Dyer
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