'The Invisible Man' rife with tension
The story of a woman getting revenge on her abusive husband has been told plenty of times before, but few explorations of this story feel as high-stakes and filled with tension as director Leigh Wannell's take on "The Invisible Man."
Originating from an 1897 novel and 1933 film adaptation, this modern version of "The Invisible Man" follows Cecelia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) as she tries to escape an abusive relationship with her narcissistic, controlling husband Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Griffin – like many powerful men – has been Teflon to consequences and remained successful in his field despite his dark side. Eventually, Kass escapes his grasp and that leads to the inciting incident of the film – Griffin's apparent suicide.
Those who have seen the preview for the movie know this is how it starts, so forgive what could be considered a spoiler. What follows Griffin's death is Kass's steady mental decline as she feels as if Griffin is still with her – that he is alive and tormenting her while remaining invisible. This, of course, causes her friends and family to be skeptical of her mental health and worried for her well-being.
Kass's best friend James Lanier (Aldis Hodge) looks after her while she stays with him and his daughter in the aftermath of her escape from Griffin. Lanier and Kass's sister, Emily (Harriet Dyer) are thoroughly supportive of her and showcase the exact kind of people one needs in their life following trauma. The way trauma takes center stage in this film is what makes it truly scary, because you can feel the anxiety building right along with Kass.
Moss is outstanding in the lead role – another strong performance from the star of "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Mad Men," among other bigtime film and TV appearances. She is finding herself a niche as someone capable of portraying an emotionally damaged character, and although she hasn't pigeonholed herself it seems like one of her strong suits. The face twitches, tears and long, dead stares she displays in this film convey the terror one must feel when their partner has taken over their life.
While Jackson-Cohen appears only for a small portion of the movie, his performance as a sociopathic husband is convincing. It is a major follow-up to his breakthrough performance on the Netflix horror drama "The Haunting of Hill House" and he is an actor to keep an eye on in the coming years as his career continues to ascend.
Ultimately, this film is less about the star power of its cast and more about a compelling story of pain, loss and revenge. The dialogue can be underwhelming at times and the narrative borders on cliché, but the tension is high enough throughout that it will have audiences looking over their shoulder long after they leave the theater. Those with an appetite for some blood-splattering horror that has nothing to do with the paranormal will find "The Invisible Man" an enjoyable experience, despite its flaws.
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