You seem to get two kinds of horror movie from Blumhouse studios. The first is the traditional, dark, creepy and “jump-scare” filled movie which they’ve made a name for and produce very well to great effect. Every now and again though, you get the second type of movie. This movie is the more serious, more intelligent and often better written horror movie and The Invisible Man is that sort of movie.
It has instant tension from the opening scene. Wordless, it follows Elizabeth Moss’ Cecilia as she sneaks out of her home to get away from her abusive husband. It is a scene played cold, slowly and will keep you on the edge of your seat, regardless of the fact that you don’t know who this woman is or why she is trying to leave.
That well crafted tension is throughout The Invisible Man. This isn’t played as a corny, modern-day throwback to the traditional man in bandages Invisible Man that Universal made famous. This is a more serious, more terrifying prospect of how you defeat a terror that you can’t see and then, ultimately, can’t prove exists.
This is seen effectively in some very well-staged set-pieces. This includes Moss and a friend’s daughter being stalked in the night, taking advantage of a sheet for simple horror while another scene in the attic, involving a phone and torch ups the tension to very simple effect. When The Invisible Man does eventually strike, this is also done very well and the performance from the characters being attacked sells the terror effectively (even if CGI and green-screen has made this much easier).
This is also in part to Moss’ overall performance too. She isn’t a “scream queen” who’s purpose is to run from the terror for ninety minutes. She is a victim overcoming trauma and the film effectively touches upon abuse, PTSD and the lasting effects that dealing with a terrible relationship can have on a person. She starts the movie vulnerable but as it progresses, you find yourself completely behind her, sharing in her plans, the failings and most of all, desperate for her to finally defeat the villain.
This doesn’t stop the film falling into some typical horror-tropes at times. Moss’ character can often make decisions that you only ever see in horror movies, taking the poor route when a more obvious, easier or safer one would do. There is also an attempt to add a twist which feels obvious from the outset. This is all compensated for with a great finale which will satisfy purely because of how well the battle between the heroine and the titular horror character is written.
Overall, The Invisible Man is a well-written, tense and intelligent horror movie which manages to bring a classic horror character up-to-date. Elizabeth Moss’ performance brings credibility to the role and the way it focuses on aspects of abuse and trauma makes it a deeper and better watch than your usual horror. Some typical tropes aside, it is a fantastic horror movie.
Rating – 4.5
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