The Invisible Man


Opening Friday, Feb. 28

Drenched in modern angst and psychological menace, The Invisible Man is a horror movie for our times. The film redirects classic thriller tropes toward contemporary anxieties about amoral technology companies, anonymous online predators, gaslighting narcissist men in power, and sudden gun violence.

Elisabeth Moss headlines as architect Cecilia Cass, whose abusive ex—a wealthy Silicon Valley scientist in the field of advanced optics—has just committed suicide. Or has he? A series of increasingly disturbing events leads Cecilia to the terrible truth: She’s being hunted by a psychopath that nobody can see.

Director Leigh Whannell takes an interesting visual approach. We know from the title, and from the pop-culture legacy of this famous screen villain, that there’s an invisible man (not) in the picture. This foreknowledge brings intriguing tension to every scene. Whannell frames his shots so that each sequence is haunted by a potential invisible threat. As the characters interact, the camera seems to be tracking an additional entity that we can’t see. It’s a terrific device for a horror movie.

Heads up, though: This is not a campy spook story in the manner of the old Universal creature features. It’s a hardcore contemporary thriller, violent and sometimes gory, with scenes of almost unbearable tension. Moss brings terrible emotional specificity to her character’s trauma. It’s the right approach for the subject matter—this film takes its violence seriously. But the tone is not readily apparent from the trailers and marketing materials.

All horror movies are ultimately about our real-world fears, but there’s usually more artistic sublimation in the mix. The Invisible Man takes a direct route into the brain-stem terrors of intimacy, abuse, and violence, and it’s scary as hell.

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