How can you fight a person you can’t see? Or someone who has already died? In Leigh Whannell’s version of H.G. Wells’ classic novel The Invisible Man, we get to see the character as a bad guy, who may or may not have come back from the dead to make life hell for his wife. However, there is more to the story as the writer/director makes things interesting by giving the wife a smart mind instead of a scared one. The director’s subtle approach to the subject is commendable as he used suspense in an effective manner, showing the audience that horror doesn’t necessarily mean raising one character from the dead and being delirious about it. If used intelligently, it could pay dividends as it does in the case of The Invisible Man.
Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) fears her abusive husband Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a wealthy optic engineer who lives in a huge mansion that is nothing less than a secured facility. After escaping from his clutches and moving in with her ex-brother in law James (Aldis Hodge) and niece Sydney (Storm Reid), Cecilia finds out that her husband took his own life after she left him, but named her the sole beneficiary in his will. However, when strange things begin to happen around her, she suspects that Adrian is behind these happenings as if he is not dead but Invisible, hence the title. Is it really the ghost of Adrian that is stalking her or just her imagination, the film tackles that subject but not before the audience witnesses a fight with an invisible being, a murder in a public place and Cecilia going to prison for a crime she didn’t commit.
For a change, this Invisible Man doesn’t revolve around the title character but the one he is abusing, stalking and even trying to destroy. Like a good Alfred Hitchcock film, it spends most of the time confusing the characters as well as the audience before the big reveal that changes everything. Here, the titular character is the antagonist, something that hasn’t been done before in an Invisible Man flick. Actress Elisabeth Moss does a great job as she carries the film on her shoulders; her performance first as the shocked individual who is being stalked by an invisible being and later when she becomes the hunter from the hunted is the film’s highlight as it keeps the audience engaged from the word go. Other characters also do an impressive job but can’t match the brilliance of the impressive special effects that are the film’s strength. Be it the fight sequence in the psychiatric facility’s lobby or outside in the rain, the visual effects win the day. Add the huge twist at the end and you have a winner on your hand.
The film’s first half is a little slow, but as the film moves forward it becomes interesting especially the last thirty minutes when the Invisible Man is sort of visible. The biggest drawback of the movie is its lack of a star cast, not that they should have cast someone known in the title role. Besides Elisabeth Moss, the rest of the people aren’t that well-known in Pakistan, even though some of them appear on TV and might be in some of the series on Netflix. That’s one of the reasons why it didn’t attract the audience towards cinemas, the other major reason being the Coronavirus outbreak. Had it not been for the disease, people would have loved to watch The Invisible Man in the huge cinemas of the country, especially the IMAX one in Lahore.
The Verdict 3.5/5
The Invisible Man is both a horror flick and a suspense movie, rolled as a Sci-Fi thriller. There are times when the audience keeps wondering what will happen next and something exactly the opposite takes place. Then there is the fascination with 'invisibility' that was last 'witnessed' in Hollow Man where the title character went on a killing spree after being rendered invisible after an accident. Unlike the Kevin Bacon starrer, there aren’t many action sequences here because there isn’t a visible character to fight yet jaw-dropping moments will drop left, right and center as the film progresses.
The writer-director Leigh Whannell has done a fantastic job in first convincing the audience that the protagonist is crazy and then making them realize that she isn’t. He brilliantly uses empty spaces in the frame to let the audience decide what they want to feel, a fact that is complemented by the superb background score. Making the title character an abuser that too in the #MeToo era was a wise move that will help the film in the long run, especially when it is released digitally.