Directed by: Leigh Whannell
Premise: Inspired by the novel by H.G. Wells. A woman (Elisabeth Moss) flees her abusive husband and shortly thereafter he apparently commits suicide. But she suspects that her husband is not dead but has found a way to make himself invisible and stalk her.
What Works: The Invisible Man is a craftily made motion picture. The movie is very quiet and mostly executed with very basic filmmaking techniques. Quite often the filmmakers hold the camera on an apparently empty space and invite us to scan for a threat. At other points the camera pans away from the action, making us wonder what is happening just off screen. The Invisible Man also uses sound extremely well. This is a quiet movie and the filmmakers use the silence to their advantage. Like A Quiet Place, this film invites the audience to listen closely and the sparse soundtrack works together with the visual techniques to force the audience to pay close attention. This is a very tense movie and it sustains an atmosphere of dread and anxiety from the opening scene all the way through the ending. This version of The Invisible Man is the story of a battered wife who is stalked by her husband and the invisible man concept lends itself to the domestic abuse scenario; the movie captures the fear of living with an abuser and the way that fear lingers even after the wife has escaped. Elisabeth Moss is cast in the lead role and she is quite good. We never see flashbacks to the abuse and we don’t have to because the violence of the relationship is evident throughout Moss’ performance. We can see the fear in the way she moves and looks at seemingly innocuous situations.
What Doesn’t: This adaptation of The Invisible Man has almost nothing to do with H.G. Wells’ novel. That’s fine since the idea is adaptable and the filmmakers do something fresh and interesting with it. However, the invisible man of this film is not much of a character. He’s an off screen threat without any personality. The film also suffers from a few story elements that don’t make sense especially details of the husband’s plot to fake his suicide. Upon the public pronouncement of his death, the wife would be poised to take everything and yet it is as though she has no ownership of the estate. Without giving it away, there is a big twist near the end of the picture that has several logical problems.
Bottom Line: The Invisible Man effectively reinterprets a classic concept and turns it into a movie for the contemporary audience. The story has some logical lapses but this version of The Invisible Man is a successful thriller with a great performance by Elisabeth Moss.
Episode: #792 (March 8, 2020)