Review: The Invisible Man (2020)

Empty space has never been more terrifying!

In a time when cinematic universes reign supreme, Universal is one of the few studios left playing catch-up. Twice, they’ve tried to kick-start a shared universe featuring their classic movie monsters, and twice, it’s failed. No one remembers Dracula Untold (2014) and anyone who saw The Mummy (2017) wishes they could forget it. The Invisible Man (2020) is now the third attempt to bring these iconic characters into the 21st century although this time, the idea of a shared universe has been scrapped in favour of a standalone, character-driven movie. The result? A fucking fantastic movie that is one of the most intensely thrilling stories I’ve seen in a while. Congrats Universal. You found a way to make your movie monsters work in 2020.

Screen Shot 2020-02-27 at 8.32.20 PM
Credit: imdb.com / Universal Pictures

A reboot of the 1933 movie of the same name, The Invisible Man follows Cecilia Kass, a woman who’s just escaped her abusive and controlling boyfriend, scientist, Adrian Griffin. Though Adrian is thought to be dead, mysterious and inexplicable events lead Cecilia to believe he has found a way to become invisible and is stalking her.

At the beginning of the year, I pegged The Invisible Man as one of my top 10 most anticipated movies of 2020. Not only was I psyched that Universal seemed to be cutting any ties to its failed shared universe, but the trailer genuinely scared me because the premise of The Invisible Man plays on some of our biggest fears as humans. Don’t we all have a fear that someone else is secretly in our house? Watching us without knowing it? Isn’t what you can’t see much scarier than what you can? The Invisible Man takes these fears and exploits them masterfully, as writer / director Leigh Whannell crafts a captivating thriller that is wildly terrifying and will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. I cannot speak highly enough of this phenomenal movie.

You would think that a movie like The Invisible Man would be derivative and unoriginal, but the script is surprisingly fresh, sharp, and smart. Whannell effortlessly frames this iconic story in a modern setting in a way that feels totally plausible, endlessly engaging, and consistently frightening. You guys, there were audience members who were screaming and jumping out of their seats during this movie. This movie is slick and timely, with shocking twists and turns around every corner. My jaw literally dropped multiple times which for me, doesn’t often happen at the movies. Perfectly paced, the story seamlessly flows from one exciting scene to another, all the while delivering powerful and emotional moments from its characters that clearly define who they are. The movie may be just over two hours long, but I could have easily sat through another two hours of this masterpiece.

Whanell knows how to amp up the senses of paranoia and dread, as evidenced by his impeccable direction. The way he builds suspense and terror from nothing but empty rooms, still objects, and shadows is masterful to say the least. Your eyes will scan any shot the camera lingers on, desperately searching for any subtle movement, impression in the furniture, or change in the scene. The Invisible Man is a thriller that is not only unnerving as hell, but will mess with your mind as well. Just try falling asleep after watching this movie and becoming unsettled by every inanimate object in your house.

One of the most compelling things about The Invisible Man is its excellent use of visual storytelling. It kind of already is, but the visuals in Whannell’s The Invisible Man are so powerful, that this easily could have been made as a silent movie. The movie’s opening few minutes are devoid of sound and yet, the movie’s story and tone are established flawlessly. The suspense is so well to the point where everyone in the audience jumped at the sound of a barking dog. Seriously, you could hear a pin drop in that theatre.

The driving force behind The Invisible Man is Elisabeth Moss who stars as Cecilia. It’s her mesmerizing leading performance that elevates this already incredible movie to one that is a guaranteed must-see. Much like Whannell’s directing style, it’s remarkable how Moss is able to do so much while doing so little. Watching Moss frantically scan a room is just as exhilarating as watching her deliver a soul-crushing monologue or wrestle the invisible Adrian to the ground. A force to be reckoned with in every sense of the term, Moss is a sensational actress whose phenomenal range is on full display in The Invisible Man. Her awesome talent makes her the perfect lead for this movie. Oh my God, remember when Johnny Depp was going to star in this movie as the titular character? That would have been a MUCH different movie and it would have been awful.

The Invisible Man is a fantastic thriller that is one hell of a ride to experience. It will leave you speechless. Aspiring filmmakers, take note. If you want to craft a truly exceptional movie that not only gives classic characters a modern update but tells a phenomenal horror story as well, look no further than The Invisible Man. Universal is certainly on the right track now that they’ve abandoned any plans for a shared universe. Who knows? With this stunning standalone movie, maybe the idea of cinematic universes will become a thing of the past. It bears repeating: Go see this movie.

Will you see The Invisible Man? What are your favourite thrillers?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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