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The Invisible Man – Movie Review

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The Invisible Man – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

The horror genre doesn’t get nearly enough recognition for how it handles certain subject matter. Some can be gratuitous, while others are able to comment on society’s ills in a way that provokes a needed reaction from the audience. Director/writer Leigh Whannell finds a respectful way of commenting on domestic abuse and spousal violence in The Invisible Man by focusing on Elisabeth Moss’s Cecilia and her battle with the titular man. She is in every scene and Moss effectively carries the film with a completely physical performance. The movie also does some incredibly clever things with sound, which is sure to invite worthy comparisons to A Quiet Place.

It doesn’t take long for Whannell to get the viewer invested in Cecilia’s story. In the first few minutes, we already understand so much about her relationship with the scientifically gifted Griffin. The first sequence brilliantly uses sound to build up the tension and that forces us to listen and pay close attention for the rest of the movie. The attention to detail Whannell and his sound team give to making sure every creak and boom is important is incredible. It adds so much to the atmosphere of The Invisible Man and shows what an important tool sound is in telling a cinematic story. Film is often seen as a visual medium, but the aural element can be just as pivotal.

Despite the title, Elisabeth Moss is at the centre of The Invisible Man. Cecilia is immediately sympathetic as we root for her to defeat Griffin. Whannell is able to touch on topics of domestic violence and spousal abuse in a way that gives the narrative to the women who unfortunately face these issues on a daily basis. From gaslighting to the difficulty of being believed, the movie handles these topics respectfully, even as it participates in the required thrills. Horror as a genre is underappreciated in how it comments on the worst of society and some of the best films depict women fighting back against monsters.

Moss carries a lot of the film as she captures Cecilia’s terror and handles the more physical demands of the role. There are a number of scenes where she is required to act against nothing and she does so excellently. Her character goes through so much over the course of the movie and Moss shows an incredible range of emotions. The special effects artists also successfully show off Griffin’s prowess. We get the expected imagery of objects moving by themselves, while other scenes make one wonder how the filmmakers pulled them off. The stunt team similarly deserves credit for nailing the action-heavy sequences.

It feels like horror is in a golden age right now and The Invisible Man is further proof of that. Leigh Whannell joins other talented filmmakers like Robert Eggers, Jordan Peele, John Krasinski and Ari Aster in capturing something real in his horror even when dealing with something out there and unrealistic. These are also directors that take full advantage of what cinema is capable of, by using all of the techniques and all of the viewer’s senses to heighten the experience. The visuals in The Invisible Man are great and Elisabeth Moss’s performance should hopefully be remembered by year’s end, but it’s the sound that adds that extra impact in making sure we are often on our toes.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison