With this reinvention of Universal’s classic monster movie, writer/director Leigh Whannell (Saw, Dead Silence) delivers a superbly crafted thriller anchored by a compelling performance from Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale). Moss plays a battered woman who escapes her all-controlling boyfriend only to learn that he has taken his own life. She grows suspicious about his death when a strange presence begins to haunt her. Convinced that the suicide was faked and that her ex is now stalking her with the help of groundbreaking optics technology, she begins to question her own sanity. The invisible menace begins turning her loved ones against her until she finds a way to fight back — to control her controller.
Having seen the trailer and knowing the concept, I thought I had The Invisible Man figured out. But this movie opens with a mysterious and tense sequence that immediately pulls us into Moss’s point of view. Through her vulnerable performance and Whannell’s sure-handed directing, we don’t watch this film as a mere third party voyeur waiting for the next visceral kick. No, The Invisible Man is a bonafide first-person emotional roller-coaster ride. There are no slow or aimless moments, no false notes in the supporting cast, no indulgences unearned, no twists that aren’t organic to the material. And it’s also a product of its time, a conversation-worthy companion piece for the “me too” movement.
Finally, this movie is special in another way. I usually watch films in a stoic fashion. I may laugh and I may cry, but I have never audibly gasped at a movie, but I did at this one. I hope film students watch this film to learn the difference between suspense and shock — because this movie has it all.
With Harriet Dyer, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, and a highly effective score by Benjamin Wallfisch.