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  • Martin Cheney

The Invisible Man. See it.


★★★★½



To say I was initially skeptical about The Invisible Man is an understatement. Despite the presence of Elisabeth Moss, which usually signals cinematic glory, the trailer just looked like another derivative cash-grab consisting of eye-roll-inducing jump scares and a Woman running away from a Man. Cue my eventual puzzlement at the generally positive critical reception and then my own totally unexpected reaction to the film; I absolutely loved this movie.

On the surface, it isn't overly complicated, so it really shouldn't be difficult to explain why I liked it so much, but I'm struggling to put it into words. It absolutely is not without fault; there are a couple of plot holes that come to mind that would instantly end the movie if they were taken to their logical conclusions, and some of the CGI lacks finesse. But I don't care. You also might think that 4½ stars is too high a score for a film with multiple flaws. See previous statement.

Leigh Whannell directs this movie like someone who believes that horror movies are allowed to have a brain. They don't have to be 2-hour exercises in How Uncomfortable We Can Make You Feel. They can have characters you actually care about, plot developments that surprise and shock (not because they pull the rug out from under you, but because they go in a direction you assume they wouldn't dare to) and technical achievements that rival films that are actually allowed to win Best Picture (i.e. not horror films). I had no idea how the cinematography was going to imply the presence of this invisible person, but the method he's chosen is so simple it's unsettling. While no particular scene really approached my personal threshold, there are some unbearably tense sequences that are made all the more effective because you KNOW there's nothing to see.

Speaking of characters you actually care about, holy flopping heck, Elisabeth Moss. This woman is one of the most impressive actors (male or female) working today (imho, she's the best). She can deliver an entire monologue with an eye twitch and, in the next breath, tear the screen down with her furious, physical rage. She 100% deserves an Oscar nomination for this performance, but she won't get one because horror movies are silly lol (I'm still furious about Toni Collette's Hereditary snub).

The score by Benjamin Wallfisch (one of my favourites in this next generation of film composers) will divide. It is set to 11 for the entire duration of the film and almost literally assaults you in the face with electronic shrieks and bass-heavy groans. The marcato strings are so exciting - at one point I realised I had a stupid grin plastered across my face just because what I was hearing was so heckin' cool. This, coupled with the editing and camera work, made the sequence between the Pen Moment and the Rain (you'll get it when you see it) easily the best scene in the film. I personally loved the music, but I can understand anyone thinking it was OTT.

While the origin story is firmly planted in sci-fi, this is well and truly a horror re-imagining. It sometimes straddles the boundary of 'thriller,' but there are some distressing narrative turns that are pretty hard to swallow, so if you're looking for a run-of-the-mill revenge saga where the scorned victim gets back at their abuser, this film is several steps further down the line, and doesn't always give you what you want. It's violent (although not gratuitously so) and not afraid to toy with you.

Variations on this theme have been butchered so many times before, it's refreshing to finally see it done with skill, visual flair and a cheeky wink. It's not reinventing the genre, nor does it play by the rules. It's just a great horror movie. PS: if you're considering seeing it, don't watch the trailer.

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