After failing to move forward with the Dark Universe of classic monsters, Universal Studios rebounds with more individualized storytelling in their latest rendition of “The Invisible Man.” Loosely based on the H. G. Wells novel of the same name, the film depicts Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) and her struggle to get away from her abusive boyfriend, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). After Cecilia manages to get away with aid from her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) and their childhood friend James (Aldis Hodge), Adrian takes his own life but leaves Cecilia a large portion of his fortune. After a series of bizarre events unravel, it soon becomes evident to Cecilia that Adrian may not be as dead as she thought and is now tormenting her.
This movie excels in its creation of tension through its score, its handling of scares and the cinematography and camera work. The way scenes are set always gives the eerie feeling that someone is watching. Long shots and unbroken shots are used to great effect, often showing Cecilia or one of the other protagonists from another room or following them through the environment. This creepy feeling is also aided by the movie’s soundtrack. The slow-burning music, aided by clever usage of instruments like piano or violin, helps to keep you at the edge of your seat. Given that this is a horror movie, the scares have to deliver, and for “The Invisible Man,” it does. Moving items, Cecilia and crew being attacked despite the visible danger, reveals of the Invisible Man and a particularly unnerving scene involving a phone call help add to the eerie presence of our antagonist.
Of course, a technically well-made movie is not worth much without solid acting, and in that regard, “The Invisible Man” also doesn’t disappoint. Aldis Hodge is believable as the childhood friend to the Kass sisters, a cop and the father to Sydney (Storm Reid). Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Michael Dorman both do a solid job as the film’s antagonists, bringing sinistry and uneasiness to their to the story. However, the standout is without a doubt Elisabeth Moss. She anchors the film with her convincing performance of a victim of an abusive relationship, someone looking for escape. She really begins to hit her stride toward the climax of the film when her character is sent to the asylum, as you can see through her facial expressions that she has been through hell, that she is emotionally fractured, yet can still recover to be a fierce and determined individual. If there is a weak link in the cast, that would easily be Harriet Dyer as Cecilia’s sister Emily. When she is helping Cecilia, you really are not that convinced that she cares for her younger sister, and when she begins to distance herself, you also don’t quite buy the fact that she is angry with Cecilia.
While on the subject of the movie’s weak points, the ending of the film leaves a lot to be desired. There’s a difference between a complex ending that gives thought towards the film and a sloppy finish, with “The Invisible Man” falling towards the latter of the two. The twists that director Leigh Whannell throws seem to attempt to mirror his previous work with “Upgrade” (2018). However, the twist this time feels just, well…what?! The film ends much more naturally on the scene after the final confrontation, but what continues afterward feels really unnecessary and calls into question previous events in the film. There are also a couple scenes, particularly near the end, where it was obvious to viewers that security cameras would catch Griffin as he begins to kill people in front of them.
Overall, “The Invisible Man” is a good movie, but short from great. While it is technically well made, has overall solid performances and plenty worthwhile scares, several story elements that arise toward the climax of the film prevent it from reaching its full potential. If you’re a fan of horror movies or just want something decent to watch, then this film will be worth your time.