The Invisible Man is Universal’s third attempt to launch a cinematic universe starring their classic monsters (including Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and many more). The first was in 2014 with Dracula Untold, but plans to make the film a launching point for future films were abandoned in favour of turning director Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy the start of their Universal monster cinematic universe, which they dubbed the Dark Universe. However, the scathing reviews and disappointing box office killed any future plans for the Dark Universe. Now Universal is trying once again with a remake of The Invisible Man from Leigh Whannell, co-creator of the Saw and Insidious series and the writer/director of Upgrade, one of 2018’s biggest surprises.
The film follows Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss), a woman who is trapped in an abusive and controlling relationship with her wealthy scientist boyfriend Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). In one of the most nerve-shreddingly tense opening sequences any film has delivered in recent memory, Cecilia escapes from her abuser with the help of her sister Alice (Harriet Dyer), her friend James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid). Not long after, Cecilia is informed that Adrian has committed suicide and left her five million dollars, on the condition that she can prove she is mentally competent. But it soon becomes clear Adrian is far from dead. He has successfully made himself invisible and is continuing to abuse and torment her. And as Cecelia desperately tries to prove what is happening to her, Adrian’s attacks become increasingly more violent.
The Invisible Man deftly confronts domestic violence and explores how abusers are able to commit their atrocities out of sight and how their victims are gaslighted. Whannell has given us a harrowing parable for the tragic reality that is women living in fear of their partners and not being believed when they reach out for help.
Elisabeth Moss is engrossing throughout, delivering a nuanced and haunting performance that ranks amongst the best of her career. The film is stuffed with moments of anxiety-inducing suspense, genuinely effective jump-scares and graphic violence.
Whannell has crafted a chilling and timely thriller that had the audience on the edge of their seats for the entire run-time.
Reviewed by Jordan Ellis.
The Invisible Man opens on 27th February.