REVIEW: THE INVISIBLE MAN is a compelling and modern take on the classic Universal Monster story.


Writer/director Leigh Whannell provides a grounded take on the classic movie monster by juxtapozing it against the framework of a controlling & abusive relationship.

Leigh Whannell may be most well-known as the co-creator of the juggernaut Saw horror franchise in the 2000s, but for many genre fans, his film Upgrade in 2018 repositioned him as a voice to watch in in sci-fi/horror. One of the best genre films of the year, Upgrade, set in the near future, utilized humanity’s interconnected nature and reliance on technology as a potential vehicle for horror. In many ways, The Invisible Man resonates with that same theme and combines it with a unique angle on the power dynamics in an abusive relationship to make a film that scares you much in the same way as an episode of Black Mirror might, by showing you the potential horror of something that happens every day with a sci/fi edge.

Elizabeth Moss plays Cecilia Kass, the wife of Aiden Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a billionaire entrepreneur & head of the Cobolt corporation (which is also namechecked in Whannell’s Upgrade). They have an abusive and controlling relationship where Cecilia lives under Adrian’s thumb and uses the lopsided power dynamic in their relationship to control her and isolate her from her friends and family. Cecilia plans a daring escape at the onset of the film when she drugs her husband with Diazepam, one of the tensest and most disturbing scenes in the film and makes her way to safety. It’s only a few days later when informed by her husband’s brother Tom (Michael Dorman) that Adrian has died, that Cecilia starts to find a way to live freely again. However, after a series of unfortunate events, Cecilia starts to wonder if her husband really did die or if he found someway around death to still get his hooks into her.

On the surface, the film has a lot of similarities to domestic thrillers like Sleeping With The Enemy or Misery; films where an obsessive will go to any lengths to control the life of their target and bend their needs and ambitions towards their whims. To her credit, Moss is uniquely qualified to play opposite an actor who isn’t there and show true emotional vulnerability as she has done in films such as Queen of Earth, Her Smell, and Girl, Interrupted. The film is largely a showcase of Moss’s talent as she has to carry the baggage and emotional terrorism that The Invisible Man inflicts on her with no one to play off of her sides. Moss is a tour de force and her performance reminds you of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 by way of Wendy in The Shining; a real dichotomy of the role women often have in films like this, the hero or the victim. While Jackson-Cohen’s Adrian is largely a cipher, its the effect he has on Cecilia and her life that clues the viewer in and what a literal monster he is and how controlling and insecure he is as a person. This all comes from Moss’s terrific performance. The film’s supporting characters also help in grounding the film, especially Storm Reid and Aldis Hodge as the family who take her in once she flees from Aiden. A strong ensemble locks you into a smaller film like this and the three-hit a homerun with their natural chemistry. Moreover, the film’s cinematography by Stefan Duscio is beautiful and eerie. That coupled with the amazing score by Benjamin Wallfisch (It Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, Upgrade) really helps build tension and dread through the running time.

Overall, The Invisible Man is a definite win by Blumhouse and Universal in the horror arena. The combination of a strong lead performance, compelling subject matter, great cinematography, and score, plus a great ensemble cast elevate the film a thousandfold and put to bed the failed launch of Universal’s Dark Universe with a film that is poised to cause a lot of discussions once the lights come up again.