The Invisible Man had me excited from the moment it was announced. One, it signaled the death of the “Dark Universe.” Two, the director was announced to be Leigh Whannell, and I enjoy his work tremendously. Third, it was starring Elizabeth Moss, whose star is no longer on the rise, but burning bright. When I saw the movie, all these elements helped craft a damn good and inventive horror film. I did not leave disappointed, but highly impressed.
Leigh Whannell understands how effective minimalist horror can be. He knows how to take a nickel and dime budget and turn it into solid gold. He directs this movie not in an attempt to go in and give cheap thrills to youngsters with jump scares and be forgotten within the end of the month. No, what he crafts here is a horror film that has resonate meaning with a mass amount of patience. Every bit of the horror here is earned and sticks in the craw. I am not one to throw Hitchcock level of suspense around easily, as that is an incredibly hard benchmark to attain. However, Whannell has watched some Hitchcock tape and took some notes. Every set up will leave the audience breathless with anticipation, and THAT is effective horror. Most of the horror that comes from this movie is just empty space. Leigh Whannell made empty space scary. He set the camera up and shot B-roll and made the B-roll scary. He is scaring millions of people with just empty space and a camera turn. I mean, the talent truly speaks for itself.
The only real gripe I have with The Invisible Man is all plot related. However, that comes with a trade off. What this film lacks in good plot/story it makes up for in its theme and horror. This movie is strong in a thematic level, but I can’t deny the plot isn’t all that great. In fact, the plot kinda goes off the rails into silliness towards the end. I think the writers had several twists in mind and decided to do all of them, even though they were all grossly unnecessary. I won’t give anything away, but I am not big on horror that overly explains itself. In a movie like this, it would be best served to keep things obscure. That being said, the themes about domestic abuse and overcoming trauma from that scenario is well done. So, while the plot left me mostly empty, the theme kept me invested.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Elizabeth Moss is great here. She, like Whannell, is mostly working opposite of nothing. The performance almost entirely comes from her use of expression. Every thought, every emotion, every fright, comes from her eyes and expression. Any lesser performer would’ve devalued the horror by going over-the-top with it. She keeps the performance reigned in and real. Everyone else in the film does a fine job. It passed my two major requirements of a horror film that most fail at. One, the dog does not die. In fact, it was liberated. Two, it follows extremely likable characters. I felt a sense of dread when anything bad could happen to these people. That's where true horror comes from, the implication that bad situations happen to good people.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score was minimal when it needed to be and bombastic when it needed to be. The use of sound is so crucial when it comes to creating good horror. It wasn’t just loud noises meant to scare high school kids and annoy others. It is not cheap scares. Whannell understands that sometimes silence is goddamn scary. Silence can make someone hold their breath in anticipation and he executes this to a crazy good end. There are a couple jump scares in the movie, but they are few and far between and they are more impactful than they would have been if it was peppered throughout.
This movie was made with only 9 million dollars. It does not look it. Some of the special effects found here look better than most big budget flicks. Whannell makes the most of the money he has and it makes it feel bigger than the budget would say it is. I hope he sticks to low budgets because he thrives with it. I’d be scared to see him with a big budget.
"I Can See You!"
Genre: Horror. Mystery. SciFi.
The Invisible Man is what happens when someone incredibly talented who has a real passion for the genre gets more talented people together and strives to make something unique and special. This is not the bargain bin horror that usually comes out at the start of the year. It achieves everything it sets out to do. It's a movie with an impact that’s entirely visible.