The Invisible Man (2020) – Review

The Invisible Man is now playing in theaters.

By Chris Flanagan

The Invisible Man begins with a tense sequence where there is little to no dialogue for 5+minutes. That might not seem like a long time to you but in the moment it was terrifying. It was a calculated move that director Leigh Whannell wanted to grab the audience’s immediate attention and let them know that this experience will not be at all what you expected.

And it worked.

The Invisible Man tells the story of Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) who has been the victim of an abusive relationship from her boyfriend, Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). After having believed to escape his reach, Cecilia seeks to begin a normal life only to realize that Adrian is still with her, albeit unseen. From there, the story careens down a steep narrative slope that pushes its protagonist into uncomfortable and suspenseful places that no matter how predictable they might still manage to perfectly instill dread and fear in its audience. This approach methodically builds from a simmer to a boil across the movie resulting in a final act that not only feels earned but evokes inner cheers that some will not be able to contain.

Even more impressive is how the concept of someone who has figured out how to become “invisible” would choose to use this power towards others they loved (or hated) is told in such a unique and grounded fashion. This is of course largely due to Whannell’s ability to keep the audience constantly at unease with an amazing screenplay and script but also to the perfect work of Elisabeth Moss who manages to give one of her strongest performances amongst an already impressive acting resumé. Without giving too much away, there is one particular scene in which she is the victim and without using dialogue conveys every panicked and relatable emotion that one would experience in the same situation that was so compelling I couldn’t believe at how long she was able to hold it. It was fascinating work that was evident throughout the film and helped build upon the aforementioned “unease” from the film’s start to finish.

However, where I feel the film would have benefitted was a small reduction in runtime. At just over two hours, the movie almost overstays its welcome in pushing its audience to the brink just before changing direction and offering a glimmer of hope for a conclusion. It does this primarily through placing the protagonist in an increasingly chaotic path, however, after the fifth or so time of this occurring the point became redundant. Playing to the counter-argument, it was a narrative device that was meant to show that Cecilia never truly had any positive way out of her situation and succeeded in forcing the audience into the submission of realizing and believing the same. To that effort, The Invisible Man succeeded above and beyond its intended goal but this method would’ve felt stronger had it been edited more.

Overall, The Invisible Man delivered a suspenseful and tension-filled story that keeps you on the edge of your seat from the very opening frame to the last. Elisabeth Moss offers an amazing performance of a woman who is pushed past the edge of sanity and goes to the extreme to prove what she knows is the truth. I was pleasantly surprised that the finished product lived up to the hype of its trailer and I lament even more the thought of what could have been with Universal’s Dark Universe. The one thing missing that would’ve made this perfect was Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll dropping in to steal the movie much like in the most recent iteration of The Mummy.

I give The Invisible Man an A.

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[Check out Critics Without Credentials for more of Chris’s writing!]