The Invisible Man was written, produced, and directed by Leigh Whannell. His total control over the movie creates a cohesive story, unlike many films. He is wonderful at table setting throughout the movie. Small details, like a missing kitchen knife, a ladder, and on-going paintwork pay off in spades later in the movie. There are very few things unexplained by the time this movie finishes, making it very satisfying.
Elisabeth Moss puts on an incredibly compelling performance as Cecilia Kass. Cecilia leaves an abusive and totally controlled relationship with rich inventor Adrian Griffin. He finds out she has escaped and smashes the passenger window with his bare hand as the car speeds off. Leigh does a wonderful job of showing instead of telling about this relationship.
For most of the movie, Elisabeth Moss is reacting to empty space. She perceives the invisible presence of Adrian, despite his apparent death by suicide. The terror on her face is very expressive as this domineering man is continuing to control her life even after death. Cecilia is living with her sister’s boyfriend, James, and his daughter, Sydney. James is a cop played by Aldis Hodge. Sydney is a very intelligent and compassionate teen played by Storm Reid of A Wrinkle in Time fame. James is incredibly accommodating and takes Cecilia’s concerns as seriously as he can until it jeopardizes his daughter’s safety. The cast has great chemistry and the relationships are highly believable.
This movie is full of allegory for the #metoo era. The central message is to believe women. You can draw more specific messages if you wish. I tried to find any concrete evidence that Cecilia was an unreliable narrator and could not come up with any. The invisible man is never truly revealed, and we never see Adrian controlling Cecilia directly, but every part of this movie points to the fact that she is telling the truth.
As with any good horror movie, there is plenty of anxiety. The invisible protagonist and Cecilia have a deep connection and can anticipate each other like no one else. As Cecilia’s anxiety grows on-screen so too does the audience’s anxiety. There are long periods where no violence happens in the film, but you never get to relax. It is a masterful lesson in the thriller genre. The audience isn’t tortured psychologically, but there is palpable unease.
The Invisible Man is in the corner of horror that I tend to enjoy. Elisabeth Moss turns in a spectacular performance that does not feel over the top. Storm Reid proves that she can turn in a solid performance if she is given a compelling story. It is a wonderful antidote to the disappointment of A Wrinkle in Time. The movie cleverly slips in #metoo allegories throughout the film without hitting the audience over the head with it. Leigh Whannell puts on a clinic with this movie and I hope to see more of his vision brought to the screen.