Top positive review
4 1/2 stars. The year begins with a brilliant update of a classic thriller.
Reviewed in the United States on March 3, 2020
Theater review. Possible spoilers. There are at least 3 movies named “The Invisible Man” according to IMDb and dozens more with variations, (monster, woman) and sequels. As a fan of many of the Universal Studios “monster” films –especially those that predated WW II – the 1933 version was one of my favorites. It was Claude Rains second film and he would go on to make many more.
This reboot has little to do with the first film or the H.G. Wells classic novel for that matter. Updated brilliantly by writer/director Leigh Whannell (“Upgrade”), the film stars Elisabeth Moss (“Us”) as Cecilia Kass, who is in an abusive relationship with a young eccentric billionaire scientist named Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, “The Healer”). Finally suffering enough she plans her getaway from his remote, very cool giant house by feeding him some crushed Xanex in his water. So off she goes in the middle of the night sloshing through the trees onto the highway where she’s arranged a pick up by her sister, Emily (Harriet Dyer, “The Way We Weren’t”). Already white-knuckled with the will she make it or not escape scene, you wait for Adrian to somehow appear to thwart the plan. This tense beginning carries throughout the film. It is also what makes it something special in the horror/thriller genre.
In what becomes a bit of a shocker, Adrian commits suicide. And yes, the rationale seems ludicrous but what do I know. Cecilia takes temporary refuge with a childhood friend and cop, James Lanier (Aldis Hodge, “Clemency”), a single parent of teen daughter, Sydney (Storm Reid, “A Wrinkle in Time”). Cecilia discovers she is mentioned in Adrian’s will so she and her lawyer-sister go meet with the executor of the estate and Adrian’s younger brother Tom (Michael Dorman, “Goldstone”). He like Cecilia claims to be a longtime victim of his brother’s cruelty as well. Cecilia is to receive $5 million paid out in monthly installments over a 5 year period. All on the proviso that Cecilia not be incarcerated for breaking the law or becoming mentally incapacitated. Such a deal.
From the beginning, Cecilia has doubts about Adrian’s death. The reason, the fact that his body was cremated and so forth. She also wasn’t aware that he was working on a machine that created a suit that when activated would turn it’s wearer invisible. In the olden days it was more of a chemical reaction and the “invisible man” would essentially be naked. Worn clothing would be seen, the early efforts of special effects. I digress.
With Cecilia’s already having doubts of Adrian’s death, she begins to sense someone else being in the house, in her room, in her car. She starts to see things disappear, be misplaced, etc. But of course no one believes her. Her sister gets a horrible letter, allegedly from Cecilia, something she denies. The film surprises constantly, including a graphic scene you’ll never see coming. Close observers may think they have this all figured out, but even more surprises lurk including a conclusion that will have you rethinking everything again.
Bottom line: This is my favorite film so far in 2020 and while still early in the year, it will likely stay with me for a while. Highly recommended.