Starring Elizabeth Moss, Olivia Jackson-Cohen
Directed by Leigh Whannell
Rating: *** ½ (3 and a half stars)
Even if you are one of those diehard pragmatists who laugh through horror movies, The Invisible Man scares the hell out of you. It isn’t about ghosts and mean spirits from outside our universe. It tells us that the evil spirit haunting you through your daily routine could be standing next to you, or sleeping on the bed next to you.
This bloodcurdling drama on the ramifications of domestic abuse opens with the strangely attractive Elizabeth Moss seeking escape from her husband’s island bungalow which has multiple entry points but no exit. As Moss’s Cecilia passed through those must-connect-only-in-the-daytime gates I felt heartstopping anxiety for her.
Would she escape? Where would she go? These questions were hurriedly answered as we find out, to our dismay, there is no escape for Cecilia, as her influential empowered ‘dead’ husband follows her into life. There is a heartstopping dread at the core of this tale of trauma and salvation. The prevalent mood is of doom.
The film’s premise originates from HG Wells but moves so far away from the original material that Wells would find this hard to recognize as his idea.
While the narrative introduces the main protagonist as she meticulously plans to escape from her husband in the dead of the night, every heartbeat is recorded in the visuals and the soundtrack. That thump you hear in the adjacent room is just your heart. The film’s immersive quality is so strong and steep I often found myself jumping out of my skin whenever Cecilia felt her brutal husband’s presence.
Towards the finale when Cecilia finally confronts the demon from her past we finally get the jolt that the film has been building towards so confidently. Mid-way through the film when we are no longer sure if Cecilia is telling us the truth the sudden death of the main cast member puts the blush on the director’s shriek.
The horror genre has seldom been used so skillfully to convey an individual’s failure to say no to an unsavoury relationship. True, the peripheral characters hardly have any well-sketched moments. But Elizabeth Moss with her glorious grimace shading every frame keeps you watching to the shattering end. The Invisible Man marks some kind of benchmark in the eerie genre of cinema.