Trapped in an abusive relationship with scientist and entrepreneur Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) at last gathers the courage to leave. Weeks later, she learns that Adrian has died but as mysterious events take place around her, Cecilia comes to believe the death is a hoax and that Adrian is still haunting and punishing her – even if she can’t see him.
The latest from horror stable Blumhouse is something of a mixed bag whereby some elements of the feature work well while others falter. The Invisible Man is one of Universal’s classic monsters and while the likes of the Mummy, Dracula and even Frankenstein have been brought to life (see what we did there?) on the big screen several times, the only movie the Invisible Man was seen (?) headlining before this was a film from 1933. Should the character have just been left alone, and how effectively does he translate into a contemporary, scary character, having become the butt of a joke in ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ and ‘Hotel Transylvania’ among other iterations?
The truth is ‘The Invisible Man’ suffers from the same problem that so many horrors like ‘Jaws’ suffer from with in that once the monster is revealed, he’s not that scary looking. There’s a good build-up before that though with jump scares aplenty and creepy camera work from DoP Stefan Duscio - he lingers ominously on spaces and follows what looks like nothing, leaving you feeling insecure and unsure. There’s a lot of ‘Paranormal Activity’ inspiration here but in terms of bringing its own horror techniques to the table, there isn’t a lot of originality present.
Elisabeth Moss, as always, is a wonderful lead, quickly establishing Cecilia from the opening scene as a smart, resourceful and determined woman. She carries the movie, with other actors having little to do other than filling the role of best friend (Aldis Hodge), protective sister (Harriet Dyer), creepy lawyer (Michael Dorman) and child at risk (Storm Reid). One feels sorry for how silly Moss looks when the invisible wrestling starts. Once the action becomes more (literally) hands-on, it fails to frighten, even with a booming, bonging soundtrack in the background.
One wishes there could be a deeper commentary about domestic violence or the nature of gaslighting to it but ‘The Invisible Man’ repeatedly falls back on attempting to be a scarefest, which it never quite becomes. One thing that can be said for it is the second half takes some twists and turns which makes proceedings really gripping. Overall, it’s an interesting take on a classic monster, but one wishes it had been more boundary-pushing.