The Invisible Man (Leigh Whannell, 2020, Australia/USA/Canada/UK)

               With The Invisible Man, Leigh Whannell has demonstrated himself as a confident director in the horror and thriller spaces. I didn’t have high expectations, with Whannell’s most notable credit prior to The Invisible Man being an installment of the Insidious franchise. The Invisible Man’s approach is strikingly spare and minimalist, and even when the special effects come into play, the film remains distinctly spartan. While the film has its flaws, it still stands as a successful revitalization of an 123-year-old IP.
               The first half of The Invisible Man barrels on the tension at a slow burn pace. After Cecilia Kass takes refuge from her abusive partner, optics scientist Adam Griffin, at the house of her childhood friend James, things start to get strange. This is the section of the film where Whannell truly demonstrates his skill. The unsung hero here is also his cinematography Stefan Duscio, who creates the presence of the titular man even when we can’t see him. Duscio’s camera work – full of gliding and disorienting angles – creates an anticipatory sense of dread.
               The latter half of the film, which introduces a co-conspirator and finally begins to show us the CGI Invisible Man, is less successful than the first. Still, the film remains remarkably tight when it comes to plot holes. Additionally, the film is anchored by an incredible performance from Elisabeth Moss. Her fear and paranoia are palpable, and her gradual descent throughout the film is powerful to watch. Even when the events in the film seem silly, she grounds them with a deep sense of reality. The film’s ending leaves something to be desired, but overall it is satisfying. Additional aspects – such as the brooding score from Benjamin Wallfisch – also create a great sense of atmosphere.
               Overall, The Invisible Man is not a groundbreaking piece of cinema, but a solid throwback thriller that stands as a great entry into the genre.


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