The Invisible Man movie cast: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid
The Invisible Man movie director: Leigh Whannell
The Invisible Man movie rating: 2.5 stars
A sharp, minimalistic house up on a cliff, surrounded on all sides by full-length glass windows, overlooking the sea, and carrying the echo of crashing waves.
The Invisible Man begins with a lot of promise, as Cecilia (Moss) wakes up in the bedroom of that house in the middle of a night, carefully removes the arm lying across her waist, takes out some pills from under the mattress, adjusts the CCTV camera to focus on her sleeping husband, takes out a bag already packed with cash and passport, changes into sweatshirt and tracks, disables the alarm, and sneaks out. Rarely do films devote so much attention, in so brief a time, to an escape. Cecilia’s minutely crafted one makes us both root for her as well as have faith in her.
The film proceeds to progressively erode the latter, as Cecilia turns out to be little more than the hapless victim of an abusive marriage, her husband being one of the world’s leading entrepreneurs in optics. There are a lot of suggestions here, of the invasive world of technology, of mind playing tricks, of fear and how much it rests on the acknowledgement of it, of a marriage dynamics, of gaslighting of women, of who is the real victim here, and even of the lure of money. However, none of it really matters as The Invisible Man, despite its lineage to the H G Wells classic, essentially turns out to be Sleeping With The Enemy reloaded, with less of the sex, more of the horror and the lead character invisible.
Moss, she of the vulnerable face and the moist eyes, is shouldering her first solo-lead here. And she does a commendable job with what she gets, which is mostly staring at seemingly empty corners and lurking around quiet houses. The supporting cast suggests there will be supplementary storylines, but The Invisible Man inexplicably lingers on them only to discard them. Its 120-plus-minutes length doesn’t help as the plot becomes more and more stretched, before bouncing to an incredulous plot twist (that you may see a while coming) and crawling to a limp finish. Plus, given the suffusion of cameras all around us these days, it is a wonder that none of what Cecilia is experiencing isn’t captured by any.
A lot of the horror lies in having one second guess the source of fear. Having revealed its hand too early, there is only so much The Invisible Man can do to keep up the surprise element. What adds to the disappointment is that the film has its sure-shot moments of slow-burning terror, like a hunt in the attic, the sudden glimpse of a shape, and that early sequence at the house. One keeps hoping director Whannell — stepping in to help Universal Pictures with the reboot of its hit horror franchises — will return to that house, and its angles and shadows, its whispers and echoes. These seem to house more secrets than the film chooses to tell.
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