The Universal Monster films are the original MCU. With their interconnectivity and recurring characters, these serialized adventures were our first look at franchises which could crossover. One of the characters who received multiple films is The Invisible Man. At time of writing, I’ve only seen the first two Invisible Man films, the first of which is an extremely goofy romp that’s enjoyable to watch.
The second is a boring mess that spoils nearly all of the goodwill the first one had. Nevertheless, for the start of the Dark Universe, we were told that it would include an Invisible Man film starring Johnny Depp. Luckily, because that sounds awful, the Dark Universe’s triumphant first firing of the Dark Universe Cannon ended up being The Mummy (2017), which ended up tipping the cannon over right into the offices at Universal Studios and blowing a hole through the office.
Due to this, the Dark Universe interconnectivity plans were scrapped and a reboot of The Invisible Man ended up changing both leads and director, giving us Elisabeth Moss of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Leigh Wahnell of Upgrade, which is also known as the good version of Venom. Anyway, the trailers for this film showed us something, honestly pretty underwhelming. It looked like a gimmick horror film which would not rely on suspense, but cheap tricks. However, after seeing it, I can say that this film is truly amazing. Let’s talk about The Invisible Man.
Starting with the best, I would say that this film is Hitchcockian in how suspenseful it is. From the opening scene of Cecilia attempting to escape her home, this film manages to install dread in the audience. Wahnell manages to always make it feel like she’s about to get caught, and that feeling manages to be just beneath the surface for the entire film. Aside from a few moments, the lingering presence of Adrian is always there.
Also, aside from that fact, the film manages to escape the pitfalls that most incarnations of this horror archetype suffer from in that the scares are almost all just pranks. Here, we see a sociopath slowly attempting to unravel the mind of someone, which is much more harrowing to watch. While I do doubt that some people would jump to conclusions and not check certain things like… cameras with certain things that he does, many of the horror setpieces including but not limited to the Attic, the Restaurant, and the [spoilers] are all magnificent scenes with some of the most thrilling moments in recent horror.
Another thing that was astonishing about this movie was the lead performance from Elisabeth Moss. Fighting for the crown of Scientology, Elisabeth Moss is right on the heels of Tom Cruise with her performance here. Her performance is almost on par with that of Toni Colette in Hereditary or Lupita Nyong’o in Us, as she manages to take control of every scene she’s in. Moss’s fear leaps off of the screen.
It’s even more impressive when you realize that a majority of her monologues are to no one, so she’s doing all the heavy lifting there. Moss isn’t the only great performance in the film though, with Aldis Hodge fantastic in the role of a loving father and good person. You also can’t forget either Michael Dorman and Oliver Jackson-Cohen are fantastic as the Griffin brothers, who manage to both show their very weird family dynamic, and the effects that familial abuse can have on a person’s life. This all leads to a fantastic conclusion which leaves one question left “Who was telling the truth?”
Now, if I have to bring up one negative about the film, that would be something I brought up with the horror, and that would be the at times infuriating idiocy of the people in this world. While other horror films still do it much worse, there are times where it feels like an idiot plot, where it only works because the characters are idiots. Whether it’s someone being hit in the face, when at the angle shown in the movie, there is no way they can think someone who was bent down and going the other way at the time hit them (WHILE THEY WERE LOOKING RIGHT AT THEM).
It’s quite infuriating at times. It’s really hard to get into this topic without discussing spoilers but here’s what I’ll say without any context in hopes that it’ll convey the point. “TAKE THE PHONE YOU FOUND, SHOW IT TO THE POLICE, AND BOOM, PEOPLE WILL REALIZE THAT THERE’S AN INVISIBLE MAN STALKING YOU.” Well, I feel like that shows just how stupid the people in this movie are to an infuriating level.
You know, sometimes I don’t realize my true feelings about a movie until I actually start to write about it. Coming out of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, I thought it was an alright movie, but then I started to write about it and I now think it was an awful, albeit extremely entertaining film, with some of the stupidest scenes in memory. This is a similar case, because after I saw it, I was declaring it the best horror movie since Annihilation, a movie in my own personal top five of all time.
However, since then, and I don’t know if it’s just me processing it more, the hour drive and back on the interstate I partook in to see Onward (the least magical Pixar film, ironically about magic), or just my soul being crushed by Impractical Jokers: The Movie, but The Invisible Man has just lost a bit of its luster. I would still without a doubt recommend it to anyone with any interest in horrors, thrillers, or gaslighting, but I can’t say that it manages to clear the best horror movies of the past decade such as Annihilation, Cabin in the Woods, or Tragedy Girls. Still, the performances and the thrills themselves are more than enough to recommend it, but the idiot plot still holds it back a little. It is the first movie I can unironically say is the best of the decade.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2