Review: “The Invisible Man”

It looks like Universal is awakening their monsters from the vault, and doing it right this time. Director Leigh Whannell reinvents “The Invisible Man” with his take on the classic story. The lead character is not the invisible man, but the woman who leaves him. Whannell’s remake focuses on advanced technology and just how much abusive behavior can infect everyone around them.

The film opens with Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) leaving her boyfriend Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who is an extremely accomplished optics scientist, in the middle of the night. The audience finds out a little later that she was running from an extremely abusive relationship, and the way Whannell tells that story is important.

A lot of turmoil and buried trauma came out of the #metoo movement, but with it came an emergence of female empowerment films, and Whannell’s film feels like one of them. Flashbacks are an easy way to show the abusive relationship, but Whannell does not utilize them. He makes the audience believe Cecilia’s account of the relationship based on what she says happened. He doesn’t give the audience indisputable flashback scenes as evidence, Cecilia’s word is enough proof.

Fears of technological stalking are present in the film as well, from the small gesture of Cecilia covering her webcam with lipstick, to discovering photos the invisible man took of her while she was asleep. Whannell taps into the growing societal fear of technology being used in the wrong ways.

Elisabeth Moss is rightfully earning her spot in scream queen hall of fame, from her performance in “Us” (2019), to her lead role in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Moss’ acting in “The Invisible Man” proves she’s on her way to cement herself in horror history. Her character is strong from the beginning, and at the same time afraid and dependent on those around her. Cecilia is a woman with more than one personality trait, and Moss’ ability to play that role left the theater clapping when she gets the upper hand against the invisible man. 

Thanks to the #metoo movement and rising awareness of how minority groups are represented in media, audiences are getting more multidimensional characters. Classic stories are being retold and reimagined from the eyes of strong women, and people of color. If Universal can avoid another remake similar to their “The Mummy” (2017) disaster and stay on track with “The Invisible Man” (2020) they’re looking at a successful franchise reboot of their iconic monsters.