Starring: Elizabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid
Director: Leigh Whannell
Cecilia (Moss) manages to leave her controlling, abusive boyfriend, but because she knows he won’t let her go, she hides in the house of James (Hodge), a policeman who lives with his teenage daughter. When Cecilia’s husband commits suicide, everyone thinks her problems are over, but she suspects that his understanding of optics means that he’s faked his death and is now invisible. Can she prove it, before the invisible ex ruins her life?
This film was originally planned as a remake or reboot of the original Invisible Man, as part of a larger plan to remake a lot of the Universal classic monster films, creating them as occuring within one world. When the remake of The Mummy, with Tom Cruise, was not a huge success, these plans were largely shelved, but this film was originally meant to be part of that.
The original film in 1933 was based on HG Wells book, and the film largely stuck to the literature, though it’s subsequent sequels went their own way. The book has a scientist find a way to make himself invisible, but in the process he goes mad and becomes homicidal. In this version, we have the story told from a female perspective, the spouse of the invisible assailant. It’s a really great reversal and works to create a lot of tension. Though we see her husband a tiny bit, we rarely really see him, or his face, and for the most of the film, he’s an unseen force, which makes him all the more scary.
Elizabeth Moss is excellent in this film, as she so often is. She really inhabits the role, and manages to be both tough, determined, and really, really scared. She also has great rapport with her co-stars Hodge and Reid, and that warmth draws you in and makes you root for her to get away.
The problem with this film is really that while Moss delivers, often she’s asked to deliver hysteria. Her character comes across as really naive about telling people her husband is invisible and still stalking her. She just seems so happy to act crazy, so I think some of the drama of the film feels engineered. Another person in that situation might question their own sanity more, or even try to find evidence or something, rather than shouting from the rooftops, essentially, that her ex has magical powers. (I do understand that this is meant to mirror the way that women are treated as hysterical and not listened to in these situations where they leave an abusive relationship) I felt like there were some plot holes and things that didn’t feel right, and it bothered me that she left her dog to fend for himself. It’s a minor thing, but… the dog kind of comes and goes in the plot. Her husband also isn’t just invisible, he somehow manages to also have skills on a Chuck Norris level.
This adds up to a movie that is fun and has an interesting idea, but loses it’s way a little and feels kind of all over the place. I felt like it was spooky and fun, but could have been a lot more terrifying. The idea that a stalker or abusive ex could be in your home watching you and messing up your life because they’re INVISIBLE is so creepy. It could have been a really scary film, rather than just an entertaining one. It is worth seeing for Moss and Hidge though, both are really good and highly watchable.
See It If: you’ve ever had a date that just couldn’t take no for an answer… It’s a fun watch, and has really good central performances, even if it’s a bot OTT. It’s fun.