Elisabeth Moss battles dangerous air in eerie, jump-scary 'The Invisible Man'

If you’ve kept up with my blog, you know that horror movies are not at the top list of my favorite genres. But something called to me with this movie. While the trailer for the film reveals most of the movie, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised by how haunting The Invisible Man was.

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When Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) decides to escape her abusive ex-boyfriend (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), she believed that she would start her life anew, especially when he takes his own life and leaves her with his fortune. Unfortunately, she suspects his death is a hoax as peculiar events start to take place. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she’s being hunted by someone no one can see. 

I’ve grown to appreciate Elisabeth Moss as an actress after watching her in Hulu’s The Handmaiden’s Tale, The One I Love and Shirley. This film can now be added to her growing list of superior acting credits as she gives a powerful, haunted performance in this psychological horror adaptation. She keeps a raw, tensed performance that keeps a grip-hold on the story. It isn’t necessarily the jump scares that get you (they are actually extremely jumpy), but it’s the quieter, more existential ones that really causes the hairs to raise up on the back of your neck.

In the theaters, I watched as the camera pans around and you become unsure about what is real and what’s not. You don’t know what – or who – could be hiding behind a pillar or in plain sight in front of you. This type of tension does not leave the film in many moments because, as an audience member, you always have that thought in your mind. 

When Cecilia is attempting to quietly make her getaway out of her tech-mogul boyfriend’s modernist fortress, you don’t know why she’s trying to escape but you can guess why. With the help of her sister (Harriet Dyer) and finding shelter with an old friend (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter (Storm Reid), Cecilia begins to rebuild her life and start a new chapter of her life. But once odd things start to happen, her world begins to unravel. Layered with tension because of her history, Cecilia feels like her world is spinning out of control, trapped in her own body, while her abuser walks around without one (How this is done is actually a wonderful update to the original film and makes sense, considering her ex’s field of work). 

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Australian-born writer/director Leigh Whanell (Upgrade, Insidious franchise) plays fast and loose with the source material of H.G. Wells’ original 1897 novel, updating it to modern times. While I haven’t seen the other film and TV adaptations, it might be hard for me to find a better version of this story. 

Even though Whanell falls back on genre tropes and some logical plotholes, the grounded story of Cecilia and Moss’ performance carries this film to the end, even though the final minutes feel a little silly, and spoiled by Whanell’s need to put a neat bow on everything, the film is still contains satisfying jolts – including one of the most impressive on-screen deaths I’ve seen in a long time. That along with the thrumming tension underneath it that not only speaks to the supernatural terror, but to the ordinary nightmare that any toxic partner can cause in the name of the love they have for another person, particularly when they aren’t being loved back in the way that they want. That tale never fades away. 

What are your thoughts on The Invisible Man? Is it something that could keep you up at night? Hopefully you all give this movie a chance!

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