Review: The Invisible Man

Score: B+

Director: Leigh Whannell

Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer

Running Time: 124 Minutes

Rated: R

Universal's most recent attempt at rebooting their classic monsters went disastrously, with Tom Cruise's take on The Mummy notoriously crashing and burning at the box office. No Frankenstein with Javier Bardem. No Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Russell Crowe. And thankfully no Invisible Man with Johnny Depp. It's unlikely any of these blockbusters would have succeeded creatively. But with the financial restrictions and creative freedom offered by Blumhouse, Leigh Whannell (Upgrade) has delivered a creepy and effective new vision.

Elisabeth Moss, whose expressive eyes and coiled rage have already won her an Emmy for The Handmaid's Tale, is terrific as Cecilia, who we first see making a daring escape from her abusive boyfriend's fortress. This scene immediately and properly sets up the stakes and tension of the film. The sound design is crucial here and keeps you on the edge of your seat, where you'll be for the rest of the runtime.

Two weeks later, Cecilia is making slow progress, barely venturing out to check the mail. She's been crashing at the home of a friend (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter (Storm Reid), and growing closer to her sister (Harriet Dyer), when she gets news that her boyfriend has committed suicide, and a good chunk of his fortune will be coming her way. Moss does a spectacular job of showing us not only how free she feels knowing he's gone, but also how the money (which she had left behind) can be used to help the people she loves.

But of course he can't really be gone, not with the extremely disturbing things that keep happening, escalating each night. It starts with the gas turning up on the stove, causing a fire. Then something taking pictures of Cecilia while she sleeps. Then a mysterious illness later revealed to be caused by drugs. But when things turn violent, Cecilia quickly loses grip on reality, and Moss is an expert at selling scenes like this.

While it may seem like the trailer gave too much away, there's certainly more to the film, though perhaps too much more. At over two hours, the movie could have used a little tightening, and your mileage may vary on the extra twist and the gruesome coda. But The Invisible Man imbues its classic horror story with real-life terror, making it a must-see.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.