Based on the novel by H.G. Wells, The Invisible Man is the story of a woman who believes that her former abusive boyfriend has faked his suicide to become invisible as he stalks her prompting whether she’s crazy or something is really happening to her. Written for the screen and directed by Leigh Whannell, the film is a modern-day version of the Wells story that had been adapted several times for Universal Studios as they bring the character back but in a darker presentation. Starring Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen. The Invisible Man is a gripping and eerie film from Leigh Whannell.
The film follows a woman who escapes the clutches of her abusive boyfriend, who is an optics genius, as she learned that he killed himself only to suspect that he faked his death by becoming invisible and stalking her. It’s a film that has a simple premise that play more into a woman who had been a troubled and abusive relationship with this rich yet unstable optics inventor as she stays at the home of a longtime friend and his daughter to hide out. Leigh Whannell’s screenplay doesn’t just play into this woman attempting to start a new life but is disrupted by someone that she believes had faked his suicide and is trying to stalk her as well as go after those she care about. Even as those who care about her question her mental state as it play into the idea of whether this man is really there or is she really crazy though Whannell does reveal little by little that this man is stalking her after all.
Whannell’s direction has elements of style in its presentation while he does maintain something straightforward in terms of the compositions he creates. Shot largely on location in Sydney, Australia as San Francisco with additional shots in Toronto, Whannell play into this world where this man is rich and powerful but also narcissistic and controlling where his girlfriend Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) wants out. Whannell’s usage of wide shots don’t just play into the locations but also this idea that Cecilia is being watched by her former boyfriend in Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Whannell’s wide and medium shots doesn’t just allow the scope of the room but allows the camera to see from Adrian’s point of view as if he’s really stalking her. There are also shots that’s shown from Cecilia’s perspective as if she is aware of his presence as it adds to the intrigue and suspense.
Since the film is about an invisible man stalking his ex-girlfriend, Whannell does manage to maintain that illusion in the way his actors move on set as if they are being pulled by some invisible force. The usage of the wide and medium shots as well as shooting some of these moments in one entire take in a few long shots add to the suspense and terror where Whannell knows what to show and what not to show. Even as it would intensify in its third act during a sequence where Cecilia tries to trap Adrian and reveals what she had recently discovered. Even as its climax is filled with twists and turns yet it also play into how much Cecilia knows Adrian and what he can do to make her life a living hell. Even in trying to destroy the relationships with the people she care about as they’re involved in the climax as well as what Cecilia has to do with the stakes raised even more by Adrian’s actions. Overall, Whannell crafts a riveting and compelling film about a woman dealing with her ex-boyfriend who fakes his death to be invisible.
Cinematographer Stefan Duscio, with additional work from Daniel Grant, does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as its usage of low-key lighting for some of the interior/exterior scenes at night as it help maintain the eerie atmosphere of the film. Editor Andy Canny does excellent work with the editing as it does have some style in its approach to suspense but knows when not to cut in order to play into the horror as it relates to Adrian. Production designer Alex Holmes, with set decorators Katie Sharrock and Ken Sinclair plus art directors Darshankumar Joshi and Alice Lanagan, does fantastic work with the look of the home of one of Cecilia’s friend as well as the mansion that Adrian lived in. Costume designers Adam Johansen, Damian Martin, and Emily Seresin do fantastic work with the costumes as it is largely straightforward in some of the casual look of the cast with a few designer dresses that Cecilia wear yet it is the design of the invisible suit that is a highlight of the film.
Hair/makeup designer Angela Conte do terrific work with look of the characters as it is largely straightforward with the exception in some of the look of Adrian when he’s invisible whenever something drops on him. Special effects supervisor Dan Oliver and visual effects supervisor Jonathan Dearing do incredible work with the effects in the way the suit is presented at times as well as in some of the stunt work that occurs in the film. Sound editors Will Files and P.K. Hooker, along with co-sound designer Chris Terhune, do superb work with the sound as it help play with the atmosphere in some of the places that Cecilia goes including some sparse texture that add to eerie atmosphere of the film. The film’s music by Benjamin Wallfisch is marvelous for its mixture of low-key orchestral flourishes with some electronic pieces to help set the mood but also to appear when the time is right as it is a highlight of the film.
The casting by Nikki Barrett, Sarah Doemier Lindo, and Terri Taylor is wonderful as it features some notable small roles and appearances from Benedict Hardie as an architect interviewing Cecilia for a job, Anthony Brandon Wong as a man injured in a car accident, Nash Edgerton as a security guard, and Sam Smith as a detective interrogating Cecilia following a troubling event. Michael Dorman is superb as Adrian’s younger brother Tom as an attorney who handles his brother’s estate but is aware that Adrian is a control freak but also questions Cecilia about her mental state. Harriet Dyer is fantastic as Cecilia’s older sister Emily who is protective towards Cecilia but also begins to question her sister following some troubling emails. Storm Reid is fantastic as James’ teenage daughter Sydney as a young woman that Cecilia cares about and is willing to spend her inheritance for Sydney who also is aware that something isn’t right relating to who might be in the house.
Aldis Hodge is excellent as James Lanier as a longtime friend of Cecilia who lets her live in his home as he’s also a detective as he wonders about what is going and eventually realizes that Cecilia might be telling the truth about Adrian. Oliver Jackson-Cohen is brilliant in his brief role as Adrian Griffin as this unstable and controlling tech genius who is trying to keep Cecilia in his life though he maintains this ambiguity whether or not he is the invisible man. Finally, there’s Elisabeth Moss in a phenomenal performance as Cecilia Kass as a woman who is troubled by her relationship with Adrian as she tries to move on as she believes she is being stalked while is doing what she can to discover the truth where Moss brings that emotional anguish of a woman in a troubled relationship but also in the physicality in which she has to face him off in that invisible suit he possibly created.
The Invisible Man is an incredible film from Leigh Whannell that features a tremendous leading performance from Elisabeth Moss. Along with its ensemble cast, inventive approach to suspense, crafty visual effects, and its eerie in its direction. The film is definitely a rapturous take on the H.G. Wells novel but also adding new elements that gives the story a new edge. In the end, The Invisible Man is a sensational film from Leigh Whannell.
Related: The Invisible Man (1933 film)
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