Quick Hit: Leigh Whannell and Elisabeth Moss nail this modern interpretation of a classic.
I have to say guys, and let me just lay this one out with all the gushing that I can. I cannot get enough of Leigh Whannell and the stories that the man tells. Sometimes it’s original tales of horror, like Saw, which he was one of the writers of, or Upgrade, which I still think about to this day, which he wrote AND directed. Sometimes it’s taking a classic bit of literature and filmmaking, like say, The Invisible Man, and turning it into a modern classic that is somehow as representative of the things that are plaguing our society as Jordan Peele’s Get Out. The man is a wizard.
Anyways, maybe I should talk about just why I liked this film so much, but before I do, I’ll digress just slightly into why I have a unique take. I am an unabashed lover of science fiction, which many readers of the site should know by now. One of the stories I first fell in love with was H.G. Wells The Time Machine. It wasn’t long before I sought out the rest of his work, and came across The Invisible Man. Eventually, as I discovered the horror classics from Universal, I came across my favorite of them – which, as you may have guessed (or read in the link above), is The Invisible Man. So I was, as I usually am when my favorites get adapted, cautiously optimistic as Whannell was attached and Moss set to star.
But I was totally blown away when I got to watch the film, which, in the light of #MeToo comes across as inspired in a way I don’t think anyone could have imagined.
The film opens with an extremely tight opening that borders or almost too tension filled. Cecilia is escaping from an abusive relationship, and the meticulous way that she has laid out the way she must get out shows you just how bad things must have been. But, once she does get it, she finds a safe place to stay with her friend, and gets at least some support with her sister. Some of her agoraphobia begins to subside at the discovery that her abuser, Adrian Griffin, has committed suicide. However, that only lasts until strange things start to happen. It’s very obvious to both Cecilia and we, the audience, that Adrian has somehow managed to find a way to turn invisible, and faked his own death.
The thing that makes this movie so great is the way it paints Cecilia as she desperately attempts to convince her friends and family that the impossible really is occurring. When set across the lens of the #MeToo movement, where courageous women everywhere came forward to drag the truth, kicking and screaming into the light, to show us just how skeptical so many people had become, the film takes on a much darker light. Too many times women were treated just like Cecilia, but instead of the men being invisible, they were just powerful or rich. Adrian here is a microcosm of all those things – a “new money” tech genius that was at the top of his field, and created something that he must have immediately seen the potential in – but choses to use it to gaslight his ex-girlfriend. It’s an obvious metaphor for the desire in these men to control those that buck against their rule – and it’s done with the lens of a horror film.
Without an actress that is as talented as Moss, the movie wouldn’t have been as successful. She manages to sell each and every moment – from the scenes featuring a man who isn’t there, to the scenes where she brokenly begs for help from her friends. She became, in my opinion, a household name playing a woman in Magaret Atwood’s terrific Handmaiden’s Tale, and shows here an aptitude for once again playing a broken woman (though anyone who has ever seen her interview knows that she’s a hilarious actress as well, and I’m looking forward to one day seeing that side on the big screen a little more). Her Cecilia makes you both believe in her and believe in the others who DON’T believe her, because she looks manic, crazy, and broken at times. But she also holds to the emotional loneliness that so many abuse survivors go through, and brings it on screen.
For his part Whannell continues to show that he can take a smaller budget and give you a film that feels so much larger. Sweeping camera moments, well-shot action sequences, and scenes that are shot focusing on the emptiness of rooms make for an extremely intense film. I can think of very few people that could have managed to make the film that Whannell did, and do so with as much gentleness as he shows Cecilia’s characters while still allowing her (and Moss) room to be her own woman.
I loved it, and I’m giving it an “A+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"