In the modern age of horror cinema, there is a certain disdain for the characters that lifted the genre into the mainstream. Characters like Count Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster, the Invisible Man and the werewolf appear worn, and that’s because, to a large degree, they are. Studios have produced dozens of movies starring these characters, and as a result, their stories appear less shocking and more predictable. Sure, they’re classics, but they lack creativity and vision. Leigh Whannell, director of “The Invisible Man,” aims to change this, and does so with striking taste. It’s no small feat to modernize such a dated character and to do so with such success.
The movie centers around Cecelia Kass, played by Elisabeth Moss, an architect and girlfriend to an impossibly rich and megalomaniacal tech tycoon. When the relationship turns abusive, Cecelia, or “C,” executes a daring departure from her boyfriend Adrien’s estate. The movie continues through escape, fear and guilt, following C as she faces the trauma of being an abuse survivor while fearing for her own safety. The movie follows her through her gradual descent into a frenzied hysteria, and numerous twists and turns escalate the narrative.
As far as the performances go, Moss gives Cecilia her all and plays the character quite convincingly. Her fear is palpable throughout the film and is aided by the camera work. Moss’ co-stars also deliver commendable performances, in the form of characters James and Sydney, played by Aldis Hodge and Storm Reid respectively. Harriet Dyer plays Cecelia’s sister, but the character seems a bit off in relation to the rest of the cast and movie. However, this may be due to the script more than the performance itself. The cinematography has more potential than is realized, but Whannell does use several long shots to his advantage, as well as camera angles that give the impression that C is being watched, which only adds to the unnerving atmosphere. And just when the plot seems to be slowing down, an event takes place that reinvigorates the film, giving it a jittery quality. The ending also leaves the viewer with several questions, a ploy I personally enjoy.
“The Invisible Man” is a well-executed film that deserves every penny of its box office earnings. The modernization of the film material is clearly evident and works to make the film feel relevant without reliance on pop-culture, which so many movies falsely depend on. Like any good movie, it’s a combination of the many little details that work to make the viewing experience enjoyable.