By Jason Delgado
I never gave much thought to the lyrics of Every Breath You Take by the Police until I got older. It was always just a catchy tune, until I realized how creepy Sting comes across. That stalker anthem encapsulates the obsessive tech genius antagonist of The Invisible Man. “Every breath you take, every move you make, I’ll be watching you.”
Elizabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) as Cecilia Cass does an extraordinary job portraying a woman tortured by a terrifyingly abusive and controlling relationship. Is it all in her head? Her small group of family and friends certainly think so, leading to a silent traumatizing agony that so many women (and men) must feel inwardly when going through an abusive situation.
The Invisible Man is chock full of suspense, using dark nighttime settings and silence to set the mood, along with beautiful cinematography. Writer/director Leigh Whannell (writer of Saw and Insidious) pulled out all of the stops to make this classic movie monster relevant again. It is fitting that Whannell is helping to bring suspense back to the genre, since Saw is partly responsible for the torture and gore craze ever since its release in 2004. The Invisible Man does have some blood-spilling scenes, but it’s not defined by it.
There have been many attempts, but there hasn’t been a truly great Invisible Man movie since the original all the way back in 1933. In that film, actor Claude Rains’ maniacal laugh and twisted humor made him a likeable monster, quite the opposite of this new invisible man. Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) in the 2020 version is like Tony Stark in body and genius, but Harvey Weinstein in mentality. We, the audience, don’t actually see much of him, which is fitting considering the title, yet his presence is felt everywhere.
A suspenseful paranoia sets in with Cass and the audience that is both fun and rare in this modern age of horror. Cass is already on edge because of the physical and psychological abuse that she faced when her boyfriend was visible. Aldis Hodge portrays James Lanier, the muscle bound and honorable police officer who takes the mentally broken Cecilia Cass into his home, while Storm Reid plays Sydney Lanier, his daughter, and the daughter that Cass wishes she had. Both Hodge and Reid do fine work and together with Moss, feel like a real de facto family onscreen. Likewise, Harriet Dryer as Emily Cass, Cecilla’s strong sister, and Michael Dorman as Tom Griffin, the scumbag lawyer and brother of the psycho boyfriend Adrian, add much to the film with their strong performances.
It all comes together with the stellar, Oscar worthy performance by Elizabeth Moss. She perfectly embodies a woman who is slowly driven on the path to insanity, while keeping the audience riveted and along with her every step of the way. You can feel her pain because she emotes it so authentically, which is no small feat.
My criticism of The Invisible Man is that the last act of the movie becomes standard action flick fare, as opposed to following up on the creative suspense showcased at the beginning of the film. I also think that the ending could have used a little more set-up, or perhaps have gone in a different direction.
Overall, I’m thrilled that this classic Universal horror monster is back and better than ever. There’s a subtle nod to the original Invisible Man in this movie, something that super fans like me love to see.
I give The Invisible Man four out of five hot sauce packets. It’s so fiery that you have to see it with your own eyes!