I don’t scare easily. So when I tell you that The Invisible Man is utterly terrifying, believe it. Between Upgrade and Saw, Leigh Whannell has been high up on my respect list, but now I think he moves to my see-at-all-costs list.
Whannell writes and directs this modern take on the Universal monster, starring Elizabeth Moss. We open with one of the most suspenseful five minutes I’ve ever seen, as Moss tries to escape from her abusive partner, a wealthy scientist who has made incredible advancements in optics. Soon after her escape, she hears that he’s died by suicide. But some of the strange occurrences that seem to be following her suggest there may be something else going on. Is he really dead? Or has he found a way to continue to haunt her?
This film is scary on two levels. On the surface, Whannell manages to make you afraid of nothing. Is he there? Where is he? Is something going to happen? It’s not just that it creates great jump scares (which it absolutely does) but it leaves you unsettled throughout the whole film. Given how unimpressed I typically am by jump scare horror, it really tells you something when I say that this movie achieves what so few do.
AND THEN, you have the layer. It was already high on the scare meter for the surface, but it’s the layers that terrified me to my core. That’s because this film’s core is a look at domestic violence and gaslighting and stalker behavior. This is a very real fear and Whannell brings it to life. What most scared me was that I could feel how utterly powerless Elizabeth Moss felt. She couldn’t fight him because she couldn’t see him, and no one believed her to help, and there was little she could do about any of it. I’m so impressed at how well Whannell captured that especially since it’s typically a fear that’s experienced more by women, but he put it on screen like he knew exactly how it felt.
Of course Elizabeth Moss goes a long way towards making it work. We know she’s one of the strongest actresses working today, and this was an incredible showcase for her. So many scenes were just her on screen (even if there may have been a second person technically there). And I never once doubted what she was experiencing, and never once failed to see the internal battles she was going thru. Seriously impressive.
The Invisible Man – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/