Remember when I was telling you a while back that I brought my friend who was going through a salty divorce to see BLACK CHRISTMAS (2019) hoping she’d find it cathartic but instead she found it silly and was left questioning my taste in cinema? Well, I’ve redeemed myself by taking the same troubled gal-pal to go see THE INVISIBLE MAN which left her all riled up, scrappy and pleasantly pissed off. Don’t worry, even though THE INVISIBLE MAN could be accused of overtly allegorizing timely #metoo grievances, I think anyone who has struggled with a bully, psychological abuse or a general lack of having their perceptions taken seriously is bound to relate. Writer/director LEIGH (UPGRADE) WHANNELL does a herculean job of breathing new relevant life into one of UNIVERSAL’s least potent (imo) classic monsters and the end result is an undeniable success. Of course, I could have used a tad more clarity when it came to addressing who was feeding and caretaking a certain family pet who is left alone for long periods of time but that’s my issue. I’m just going to assume rich people always have a bevy of employees we never see and let it go (Note: I’m still wondering what happened to Deckard’s faithful pooch in BLADE RUNNER 2049 and I may forever).
ELIZABETH MOSS delivers a raw, fearless performance as Cecilia Kass, a woman who finds death itself is not enough to keep her controlling psychotic stalker boyfriend at bay. You see, it looks like Cecilia’s tormentor may have faked his own demise and (thanks to his deep pockets and optical expertise) has figured out a way to make his presence imperceptible to the naked eye. The gas-lighting goon doesn’t mind sabotaging her career, trashing her relationships and painting her as a short-fused, child-abusing lunatic. MOSS gets to burn bright as a cornered victim with nothing left to lose swinging from pathetic to ferocious without breaking a sweat; her multileveled, virtuoso execution pretty much puts most recent Oscar nominees to shame and it’s too bad it’ll likely go unheralded. It doesn’t hurt that MOSS’s Cecilia is surrounded by equally compelling characters, from the kindly father/daughter team that take her in that you hate to see endangered (ALDIS HODGE and STORM REID) to her tough as nails sister Emily (HARRIET DRYER) who you can’t blame for being immensely skeptic. Even her ex’s slimy weasel brother (MICHAEL DORMAN) is perfectly despicable and a great joy to see taken down a few pegs.
Besides sharing DNA with your standard “blank from hell” nineties thriller and your favorite made-for-TV woman in peril flick, a large chunk of THE INVISIBLE MAN reminded me of good old CANDYMAN (sans the romance). The two films do somewhat mirror (!) each other in the way that the female leads are put through the wringer, wrongfully committed and left holding the bag, accused of their phantom’s murders. No spoilers, but in both cases escape and redemption are only possible by adapting their menace’s skills and becoming a righteous variation of the monster (I’d even say that both are sorta subversive superhero origin stories at heart). It’s really been a long time since I’ve experienced a film with such a rousing and satisfying conclusion. Clever, compact and refreshingly to the point- this sleek sci-fi/horror/thriller hybrid like THE THING, THE FLY & INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS before it; joins an all too tiny club of relevant remakes that are equal to or even surpass their source material. What can I say? There’s no better way to put it, THE INVISIBLE MAN is a must-see, simple as that.