Universal’s Dark Universe series faltered before it even started. The plan was to reinvent classic movie monsters such as The Wolf Man and Frankenstein into an interlocking series not dissimilar to Marvel or DC’s superhero filled movies. This was all to officially kick-off with The Mummy, though everyone forgets the reboot started with Dracula Untold. Unfortunately, the 2016 Tom Cruise led adventure The Mummy was a misfire, failing both critically and commercially.
Like bandages, the whole planned series completely unraveled in favour of solo outings that are more centered in realism over more fantastical elements. Taking the first punt of this is Upgrade director and writer Leigh Whannell who has incredibly reshaped the universe whilst also creating an effective and unnerving thriller.
The Invisible Man stars Elizabeth Moss as Cecillia, a young woman trapped in an abusive relationship with the vicious and tech-savvy Adrian. When she escapes, he apparently commits suicide, leaving her all of his assets. As she tries to move on with her life, Cecillia starts to experience strange occurrences: Vicious emails are sent to her sister, pictures of her asleep appear on her phone, and there is always a chilling feeling that someone is watching her. Has Adrian come back to haunt her or is Cecillia losing her mind?
This tense and striking film inverts the Invisible Man monster and places him in our world using sophisticated technology. Whannell sluices down the concept to an unsettling yet simple premise: What if the one person who scared could kill you without anyone knowing or seeing? That alone is a terrifying. However, Whannell brings in Adrian’s brutal, violent, and controlling behaviour early so that he is already a frightening villain. He doesn’t need the invisibility to scare us, however, it makes him more sadistic and an ominous presence throughout.
Though Whannell could’ve leaned into a cheap, jump scare horror, The Invisible Man is a captivating and beautiful to watch. Stefan Duscio’s cinematography is incredibly staged and the camerawork allows an empty corner of the room to feel horrifying. It is sleekly crafted and utilises space, locations, and your own imagination to bring the tension and frights.
By now, we have already been wowed by Elizabeth Moss’s acting in TV shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale and movies such as the criminally underseen Her Smell. However, she is exceptional here. Moss so intimately tackles a character who has escaped the controlling abuse. Using subtle facial expressions or a jagged delivery, especially during the initial aftermath of her escape, Moss brings an element of realistic suffering to Cecilla. This adds to her strength and power as she begins to fight back and fight to survive. It is a fantastic testament to how amazing Elizabeth Moss is as a performer .
The Invisible Man delivers on the scares but also is an impacting piece on abuse and the resilience of a woman such as Cecilla has. An incredible sharp and stylish, but ultimately powerful and perturbing piece.
The Invisible Man is out on Digital, DVD, & Blu-Ray now!