Review: The Invisible Man (2020)

Director/Screenwriter: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Genres: Drama, Horror
MPAA Rating: Rated R for some strong bloody violence, and language
Release Dates: 2/28/20 (Wide Theatrical); 3/20/20 (Disc/Streaming)
Where to Watch: Rent-Buy — Fandango, Amazon Prime, etc.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

I wasn’t always a fan of horror films. In fact, until recently-ish, I didn’t want to watch them, no matter how strong the reviews. I guess I just didn’t want to be scared. I used to feel that way about particularly violent/grotesque films, but now I can watch the bloodiest stuff (sometimes while eating) and be totally okay. Thankfully, with the influx of excellent horror films in the last couple years — Get Out, A Quiet Place, etc. — I am as interested in this genre as I am in almost all others. And, even if one of my favorite working actors, Elisabeth Moss, wasn’t starring in The Invisible Man, I might’ve been interested in it.

The core story of the film is quite old — in fact, as old as a century, from what I’ve heard. Because the horror narrative of an invisible man terrorizing a woman is hardly new, director Leigh Whannell needed to modernize it, which he most certainly has done. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that cutting-edge technology plays a major role in the film. There is also a fair amount of #MeToo, with feminism kicking in (and kicking ass). It is [nearly] every woman’s worst nightmare to have an ex-partner stalking her, and doing so by being invisible makes it infinitely scarier. And, the film is genuinely frightening in some scenes, although it hardly kept me from sleeping that night. Like A Quiet Place, The Invisible Man is often at its scariest in the silent, quieter moments.

The sound design in Whannell’s film is simply amazing, and I hope it makes the cut for next year’s Oscars.
I didn’t have any problems with the narrative and script, and I even loved the ending, despite its relative predictability. It’s a satisfying one, with an awesome final shot (again, no spoilers here). Though, I can see how it might be viewed as divisive.

The film certainly strains credulity in some scenes, and is at its best when it embraces the horror genre head-on. What sells the premise is Emmy winner Moss’ immense commitment to the role. But, would you expect anything less from the star of The Handmaid’s Tale and Mad Men? Her performance is right up there with Florence Pugh’s in Midsommar, and not far behind Lupita N’yongo’s [dual roles] in Us. She is not only extremely emotive, but excels at the physicality required of the role, including one scene in which she is being dragged away and makes it 100% convincing. Moss is in nearly every frame and scene, and she commands your attention, just as she has in her previous roles. Hopefully, the Academy won’t neglect her next year, as they have done with Pugh, N’yongo, and other terrific female horror performances.