By: John M Jerva

REVIEW: The Invisible Man

Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Aldis Hodge, Harriet Dyer, Storm Reid and Michael Dorman

DIRECTED BY: Leigh Whannell

When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

THE REVIEW: Now The Invisible Man is normally not a movie I review on my website as it is more of a horror and suspense thriller but I was very curious to check it out and since there isn’t much to do when I’m not actually working (yes, I work in retail so I still have to go) I have been checking out some of the recent flicks that have come to the Theater At Home option on my VUDU account. The Invisible Man just came to theaters on February 28th but has suffered a short and untilmely demise as the cinemas have closed due to the spread of COVID-19 also known as the Coronavirus and more and more peolpe are staying home.

This film and others like The Hunt are now available to rent online as movie companies scramble to try to minimalize the losses due to the self isolation going on these days. Hopefully things will go back to normal and we will be able to see some actual summer films on the big screen like Top Gun: Maverick which is a movie that needs to be seen large and proud on the hugest screen possible with speakers that will knowck your clothes off.

Written and directed by Upgrade’s Leigh Whannell, The Invisible Man is a contemporary retelling of the classic monster story where a man whom you cannot see wreaks havoc on unsuspecting victims. This film was actually supposed to be part of Universal’s Dark Universe but with the poor reception to The Mummy, the studio has gone in a different direction and now is serving up standalone stories of horror and suspense. Johnny Depp was at one time scheduled to play the title role but it has now gone to Oliver Jackson-Cohen.

This retelling of the classic story takes its cues from Sleeping With The Enemy with Julia Roberts but don’t let that deter you from seeing this one. There are similarities but they are few and this one is its own creation. This time we have Elisabeth Moss in the lead role as Cecilia Kass who is in a rocky, to say the lest, relationship, with Adrian Griffin (Jackson-Cohen) who is a brilliant and rich scientist. Griffin as we learn is a controlling and abusive scumbag who after sweeping Cecilia off her feet has now become a vile creature that preys on her and controls her every move.

One night Cecilia drugs Adrian and in a desperate attempt escapes from Adrian’s clutches and seeks refuge with friend James Lanier who is a San Francisco detective and his younger sister Sydney (Reid). Cecilia’s strong and fiercley independant sister Emily also helps her in her quest to find freedom from her life of fearand dispair.

One day, things take a shocking turn when she discovers that Adrian has commited suicide and that he has left her with $5 million dollars. Cecilia at first is relieved but things go from good to bad again when strange things start happening to her that she can’t explain. Unfortunately, no one believes her and she looks like she is slowlyt slipping into madness.

As her life spirals out of control once again, Cecilia races against time to prove that she is not crazy and she is in fact being stalked by something no one can see but is very real and very dangerous.

I was drawn to this film as it was helmed by Leigh Whannell who also directed the awesome Upgrade and here, he crafts a moody and atmospheric thrill ride that will serve up some genuine scares, tension and suspense for its running time. This modern day version is based in science and offers a very rational explanation as to why someone can be invisible. Where in the classic, it was a serum, here it is a special hi-tech suit that enables the person who is wearing it to refract light and seem invisible to the naked eye. I don’t know about you but I feel that not being able to see what is cominbg for you is one of the most terrifying things in the world.

A big reason why the movie works lies in the performance of Elisabeth Moss who is an exceptional actress and really delivers a near perfect representation of a woman who is in an abusive releationship and finds the strength within to battle an evil that seeks to harm her and those she loves. Moss doesn’t go over the top with the role but instead gives it a multi-layer approach and does an excellent job going from victim to survivor to a woman who will do anything to stay alive. Moss pours heart and emotion into her role and the audience will have no problem sympathizing with her and what she has gone through.

The rest of the cast also enhance the story with Aldis Hodge, who I loved on the TV series Leverage, as Cecilia’s cop friend James. Hodge is a great supporting player in film and TV and can play it straight like here or serve up some fine comedy like he did on that show. Harriet Dyer also elevates the story playing Cecilia’s strong willed sister Emily. Even though he has a limited amount of screen time, Oliver Jackson-Cohen is particularly sleazy as Cecilia’s abusive boyfriend Adrian and he is one that audiences will relish in seeing him get what he deserves.

With a running time of over 2 hours, I did feel that the movie could have been trimmed down by like 20 minutes or so to keep the pacing a little tighter but the first two thirds of the film definitely sets the stage for moody suspense and atmospheric tension to say the least and there are more than one jump scare that will please horror afficionados as well. There are moments that the audience will not see coming and when they happen, you will definitely feel your heart jump out of your chest. Whannell does a fine job in showing respect to the source material and where this story came from.

Whannell serves up some great visuals also and is a keen master at whipping up some upgraded (pardon the pun) thrills that shows respect to the classic scare movies of old but brings it into the modern world. Even though you know that there is a logical explanation for what is going, it is still creepy in its delivery and Whannell makes no excuses for giving the audience what they want.

There is a definite hint of two movies syndrome here as the last part of the film goes off into action-thriller mode with gunfire aplenty and Moss basically turns into her own version of Sarah Connor which I found refreshing and wasn’t expecting. A highlight for me was an altercation in the hallway of a psyche ward where security guards fall prey to the invisible monster. The special effects are great and it was cool to see them trying to fight something that is not there. The finale is most satisfying too and I won’t go into spoilers but I will just say that Moss delivers some good old fashioned vengeance and it left a smile on my face. How she executes her plan is nothing short of kick ass.

All in all, I’m certainly glad I was able to check out The Invisible Man and Leigh Whannell is developing into a master story teller of different genres. Where Upgraded was a shock and awe futuristic type vengeance film, this one is more spooky and methodical and even though there is action, it still never loses where it came from. It is a great reimagining of a timeless and classic monster story and even though it’s not a monster in the truest sense, sometimes man hinself can be the worst monster of all. If you’re a fan of these types of films then check it out because you won’t be disappointed and Moss is reason enough to give it a shot.

VERDICT: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

Action-Flix Approved!

The Invisible Man is Now Playing On Theater At Home On All Digital And VOD Platforms From Universal Home Entertinment.

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