‘The Invisible Man’ Review: An Elisabeth Moss Showcase in a Surprisingly Effective Thriller

Here’s our review for “The Invisible Man” starring Elisabeth Moss, which opens in theaters nationwide on Friday…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

There has been a lot of buzz over the years that Universal would eventually try to relaunch their classic monster movies with an updated spin.

Sadly at the start of 2020, there’s no sign of Dracula, Frankenstein or the Wolfman anywhere to be found but the studio did take a new stab on an old favorite with Leigh Whannell’s take on “The Invisible Man,” which opens in theaters nationwide on Friday.

The concept of “The Invisible Man” has been done numerous times before — with mixed results including the laughably bad “Hollow Man,” starring Kevin Bacon.

The new version of “The Invisible Man” is a refreshing update on this horror classic but be forewarned this film is definitely better classified as a thriller with shades of “Sleeping with the Enemy” or “Enough” than a supernatural scare fest.

Elisabeth Moss takes center stage in this film and after watching her showcase a torrent of pained emotions on “The Handmaid’s Tale” for the past few seasons, it’s almost like this script was made with her in mind.

A supporting cast fills out the edges with a basic plot that carries the film well enough to get the job done despite a few uneven moments throughout the movie. Strangely, the most tension filled scene might be the opening scene, which sets up everything that happens for the remainder of the movie — but hold onto your popcorn because you’ll be biting your lip for at least a few minutes as the film gets underway.

While it’s highly unlikely that “The Invisible Man” will jump start Universal’s long term plans to begin a new classic monster series, the studio at least managed to take a stab at the genre with this unique vision.

With that said, let’s get to our full review for “The Invisible Man” …

PLOT

Last one night, Cecilia Kass stares at her clock with eyes wide open before quietly lifting the sheets and her husband’s hand off her as she sneaks out of bed and begins gathering items around the room. It doesn’t take long to devise that Cecilia is plotting her escape from this lush, oceanside palace and considering that she drugged her husband to stay asleep, it’s clear these two have less than the ideal marriage.

A few bumps in the night on the way out of the house finally sets Cecilia free but she can’t quit get away before her violent husband Adrian makes one last attempt to force her to stay.

In the aftermath of leaving her husband, Cecilia is trying to put the pieces of her fragile psyche back together while staying with a family friend (played by “City on a Hill” star Aldis Hodge) and his daughter. She’s barely been able to take two steps out of the house from fear that her husband might find her but Cecilia is soon informed that she’s out of danger because Adrian committed suicide and left her a hefty inheritance from his fortune.

Of course all the money in the world can’t calm Cecilia’s fears when strange occurrences start happening all around her and she’s soon convinced that her supposedly dead husband is still coming after her. The only problem is she can’t see him and getting her friends and family to believe that Adrian is still stalking her proves to be an impossible task.

ACTING, DIRECTING AND SCRIPT

Make no mistake, “The Invisible Man” is an absolute showcase for Elisabeth Moss and she nails this performance like the role was made for her. She’s a wonderful actress in everything she does but Moss conveys terror like nobody’s business. The way she transitions from emotionally fragile to borderline psychotic before then shifting gears to a woman with vengeance in her eyes is truly something to behold.

She’s got a good group around her as well, especially with Hodge, who plays a supportive friend helping her out in the aftermath of her split with Adrian.

The direction in this movie is well done, especially considering how many action scenes have to involve a lot of physicality with only one person reacting. That’s not easy — and it’s especially tough to do without making it look like a bad mime act.

The script gets the job done in terms of overall storyline, although there were a few weak moments that left a few holes in the plot that could have been handled better. We’ll get to more of that in the next section…

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE MOVIE?

The opening sequence, as previously mentioned, is utterly fantastic. Watching Cecilia try to escape her own home without waking up her husband tells you everything you need to know about their relationship without a single word being uttered.

That said, the aftermath of Cecilia’s break with Adrian was somewhat rushed and didn’t give enough context to the relationships that were forged to help her recover. The plot holes aren’t bad enough to make anything unwatchable or even worse unbelievable, but there are definitely a few moments that may leave you wondering how we got there.

The film is effective enough without digging into too much backstory, although again it felt like a bit more context regarding Cecilia’s marriage as well as a few details about Adrian’s past might have added a few more layers to the monstrous acts he’s now carrying out for the sake of terrorizing his wife.

FINAL VERDICT

The horror genre seems to get reinvented every decade but with important voices like Jordan Peele producing Oscar worthy fright films these days, the bar has been raised on your run-of-the-mill thrill ride.  “The Invisible Man” probably won’t be the best thriller you’ll watch in 2020 but an interesting twist on an old classic gets the job done with this movie — and watching Moss color the entire emotional rainbow over the course of two hours is definitely worth your time.

“The Invisible Man” gets 3 out of 5 on the Skolnick Scale

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