'The Invisible Man' (2020) Review: A Clear Classic
2018 saw the release of an amazing action film called ‘Upgrade’. Initially I reviewed it as being “some of the most imaginative, fun and wildly expressive” action I’d seen in a long time. Sadly, since ‘Upgrade’ there hasn’t been anything to quite scratch the itch it left behind. There have been superb action movies no doubt, but none that make you question the nature of the filmmaking itself. Thankfully, director Leigh Whannell is back once again making ‘The Invisible Man’, and has cemented himself as one of the most interesting directors working today.
From the film’s opening titles you can tell you’re in for something special. Waves crash over a seemingly empty space, only to reveal invisible text as the water trickles over it. From there, we’re introduced to a distressed damsel Cecelia making what is obviously a very methodical escape from an abusive relationship. It’s here that the film introduces you to one of its primary weapons of tension. Silence. With each step Cecelia is in danger of waking her captor. You know nothing about her, but the filmmaking alone makes you root for her survival, and fear for her safety.
After that point, the film goes on to show a woman suffering from an extended period of trauma. Elisabeth Moss deserves accolades for her performance. She’s vulnerable, frightened, and at the same time, paints a picture of a person unable to shake the feeling that her freedom is not what it seems. Most people feel like their attacker is standing right behind them after they’ve survived an ordeal, only to find out there’s nothing there. Unfortunately for Cecelia something is ,literally, always there.
As fantastical as the film may be, the way it treats abuse is as real as it gets. Cecelia’s inability to get her friends and family to believe her about the presence of a translucent terror is reminiscent of trauma sufferers who are unable to relate their pain to others. The film doesn’t just speak to the threats that are felt, but the ones that occur in Cecelia’s mind as well. Long before strange things start to occur, Cecelia is a continuous victim even after her opening escape.
The great thing about ‘The Invisible Man’ is that it delivers a true heroine. Cecelia never looks to anyone else to validate her fears. She speaks like someone who’s been through hell and knows the devil’s face, even when she can’t see it. Even as her world crumbles around her, the movie finds ways to keep her capable, without robbing the film of tension. You never feel like Cecelia is out of danger, but you feel confident that she’ll find the strength to overcome.
The movie contains masterful camera and stunt work to effectively pull off the illusion of the invisible man. It’s genuinely hard to imagine there was truly, nothing there. By the magic of movie making, the film is able to bring across a terrifying concept, in such an engaging way that you refuse to look away from the horror. It’s the kind of thing great thrillers are made of, and is grounded by a spectacular performance by Moss.
Rating: Big Screen Watch.