Scary, insightful, and expertly made, with shocks, surprises, and twists, The Invisible Man is a fantastic horror movie. It takes the well worn premise and heads off into new and exciting territory. It’s a really invigorating horror movie.
The film opens with a sequence of extended silence as Cecilia Kass, played by Elizabeth Moss, tries to sneak out of the super mansion of her controlling and manipulative partner Adrian Griffin. It’s wonderful sequence that builds suspense and tension through compelling visuals. Every moment is clear and thrilling.
Soon after, it appears that Adrian has killed himself. Cecilia doesn’t believe it. It doesn’t sound like something he would do. As Cecilia tries to move on, strange things begin to happen. Things get moved on her. She feels a presence in the room with her. Everyone thinks she’s going crazy as she insists that Adrian isn’t dead and is in fact somehow tormenting her. She sets out to prove that what she’s experiencing is real.
This is an excellent edition of the subgenre called Social Horror or the social thriller. These are horror movies that take on a social issue and explore how we behave and treat the issue. Movies like Rosemary’s Baby, and Get Out create excellent scary movies out of different issues. The Invisible Man here discusses abuse, harassment, and being believed. The success of this movie is that is focuses not on the man, not on the fantastic technology that makes him invisible like earlier versions, but it focuses squarely on the female victim and her response. It adds so much depth to a classic story.
There are so many great sequences here. There’s a wonderfully small moment where Cecilia thinks she’s not alone and steps outside into the cold as her breath is visible and there be someone else’s breath too. There’s a fantastic scene where Cecilia goes into the attic trying to find the truth. Once again, the movie wields silence and stillness as its most powerful weapons.
The movie was written and directed by Leigh Whannel. He has worked closely with director James Wan, one of the masters of modern horror cinema. Together they wrote Saw, Dead Silence, and Insidious. Leigh Whannel has become a rock solid director in his own right. He has wonderful control of his camera and uses tremendous restraint in building the slow burn suspense of his sequences.
Of course, the movie is carried by Moss, who walks the tightrope of sane woman appearing to lose her mind. She delivers a great and fully realized performance. To watch her go from terrified woman trying to escape an abusive relationship, to a woman frantically trying to stop and unseen force, to a woman who may be totally crazy, to a powerful woman in complete control of herself is a heck of a character arc, but she carries it off beautifully. She’s a great performer, giving a great performance.
This one is absolutely my cup of tea. It was such fun to watch such a good movie, not just a good scary movie, but a good movie. Check it out. It’s streaming on HBO Max, or rent it wherever you rent your movies. It’s well worth it even if you don’t like scary movies.
My cup of tea! A
A video essay about social horror… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSHQY1n_7aQ