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The Invisible Man Movie Review

Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man (2020)

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Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man (2020)

I try not to watch trailers anymore, but when the trailer first dropped for The Invisible Man, I was curious enough to watch it. I wish I didn’t. For some reason, some movies want to show so much before audiences even buy tickets, and I think it takes away from the moviegoing experience sometimes. At the same time, trailers can be great. We’ve all had those moments at the theater of seeing trailers that put movies on our radars, but this one showed me a little bit more than I wanted. Nevertheless, I was excited to see The Invisible Man, mostly for Leigh Whannell. As a writer, he has played a big role in 21st century horror as the architect for both the Saw franchise and the Insidious franchise. He has also improved with every directorial performances, so I was excited to see his take on this story.

Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man (2020)

The Invisible Man is directed by Leigh Whannell and stars Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid and Harriet Dyer. Cecilia finally escapes her abusive boyfriend, Adrian, but that doesn’t keep her from looking over her shoulder as he promised he’d always find her. When she receives news that Adrian is dead and that she has inherited a percentage of his wealth, she feels some relief, but it soon becomes apparent that Adrian has found a way to become even scarier in death.

Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man (2020)

Elisabeth Moss was one of the biggest selling points of The Invisible Man, for me, and she showed me exactly why. She’s amazing in this movie. Every time an actor or actress is tasked with selling us on the idea that they’re acting alongside someone else when there isn’t another person to act with, the job gets tougher than it already is. Elisabeth Moss handled it extremely well. She never has anybody to play off of, but she has to make us believe that she believes that she does, and I thought she did it really well. I also think she does a great job when she does get to interact with other actors and bounce off them. She plays crazy perfectly, but she’s never crazy without conviction. She earns every moment in this movie.

Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, and Storm Reid in The Invisible Man (2020)

I also love what Leigh Whannell does with the camera. It actually had me latched onto Cecilia even more because I felt like we were having similar experiences. There are shots without actors in them that had me wondering if any characters were actually in the shot and I just couldn’t see them. Then there are shots with one character that are framed as if two people are supposed to be in the frame, which had me questioning everything. I couldn’t figure out if I was able to pinpoint exactly what I was supposed to see or if it was just something I tricked my brain into looking for. Either way, it was really effective from a psychological perspective. The more straightforward scares were also very effective, and there are a few times in this movie I caught myself jumping, not from cheap jump scares, but from actual scary surprises. Whannell does such a great job of putting us in Cecilia’s headspace, and that brings out the best in the horror elements.

Elisabeth Moss and Aldis Hodge in The Invisible Man (2020)

Whannell is also creative with the way he uses the scares. Part of drawing up a horror movie is designing scares. Sometimes, in my opinion, they don’t even need to fit in with the story, but they have to be creative. Whannell is creative enough to pull off a movie that doesn’t show its villain, and he gets that Jaws effect with The Invisible Man. He understands that things we can’t see can be scarier than things we can, and he uses that to his advantage. Finally, I loved the comparisons drawn between fantastical monsters and abusive relationships. On its surface, it’s talking about a woman who thinks her abusive boyfriend has come back from the dead and is now some invisible, deadly entity. Underneath that, it’s talking about the way abusive relationships affect victims psychologically. It doesn’t end when the relationship ends, and I think that through its own methods, The Invisible Man nails that.

Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man (2020)

This movie does a lot of things well, but it also had a few glaring issues for me. I think a lot of the characters outside of Cecilia fall pretty flat. Adrian is probably the biggest example of this, and I understand if Whannell didn’t want to humanize him, but even aside from literally lacking a face, he seems like a faceless monster without much to him. I also didn’t buy into a lot of the motivations of the supporting characters. I think the film contradicts itself quite often in showing how far the secondary characters are willing to go for Cecilia. It seems like they make massive sacrifices for her, then the conflicts come when she asks them to take small leaps of faith relative to what they’ve already proven they’re willing to do for her. I think some of it would have been improved had the film been a bit more ambiguous in terms of Cecilia’s mental state, but I never really questioned her, which is why I struggled to understand why the people who cared about her most would question her.

Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man (2020)

There are also a few pieces of the story that seem to be forgotten about. I don’t need everything explained to me, but there are a couple loose ends that never tie together. I also think a lot of this story feels like its being pushed forward as compared to effortlessly moving forward because of decisions characters are making. Again, a lot of character traits that should be second nature seem to fall off for the convenience of the story, and I just didn’t buy it. In a movie about an invisible guy haunting his ex-girlfriend, my strongest suspension of disbelief had to come in decisions made by the normal characters.

Elisabeth Moss and Harriet Dyer in The Invisible Man (2020)

Overall, The Invisible Man hit on a lot of fronts and missed on a few others. I think a lot of people are going to be over the moon with this film as it’s really effective in its supernatural, sci-fi and psychological horror elements. Elisabeth Moss is also awesome, completely selling me on her desperation as a character and her struggle of being the victim of an abusive relationship. Where the movie lost me was with its supporting characters and with inconsistencies in character traits and motivations. The stakes for secondary characters never feel like they exist on an even playing field. It feels like certain events are put under a microscope because the story calls for it. It’s still very effective with its scares, and Leigh Whannell continues to become more polished director with every movie. I’m excited to see what he does next. I’m less in love with The Invisible Man than I think a lot of people will be, but I’m still going to give it a 6/10.

Will you be seeing The Invisible Man? Comment down in the comment section to let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]