From Leigh Whannell, the writer of Saw and the director of Blumhouse’s Upgrade, comes the newest entry into Universal’s Dark Universe with, The Invisible Man. The film follows Cecelia, played by Elizabeth Moss, a traumatized woman who experiences supernatural behaviors against her after she is informed that her abusive ex-boyfriend committed suicide, but the question is; has he? The Invisible Man is an effectively paranoid and scary psychological horror; far exceeding the quality of Tom Cruise’s The Mummy and injecting much needed life into the previously dormant Dark Universe.
The final succeeds predominately due to Leigh Whannell’s intelligent efforts to modernize The Invisible Man with a perfectly targeted approach to its core fundamental fear, the fear of the unknown. Subverting the classic slasher-out-to-kill you narrative, Whannell writes his antagonist as one who wants to make his victim truly suffer as the only thing worse than death, is living in your own personal hell. Added to this, Whannell also constructs an effective atmosphere of paranoia in his script that is perfectly elevated through his direction and especially from its outstanding lead performance from Elizabeth Moss.
For a film titled The Invisible Man, the film is ironically not focused on him at all and instead focuses entirely on his victim, Cecelia. Although this is the right decision in order to make this horror film work, the film also could’ve explored its title character a little bit more than it does. The film briefly glosses over how the Invisible Man came to be, avoiding the origin story cliche; however there is part of me that would’ve liked a greater explanation of the science of his invisibility, if he is to join a larger Dark Universe in the future.
Nonetheless, Whannell isn’t making a franchise film, instead he is aiming for an effective standalone movie and The Invisible Man achieves just that without any of the sequel bait. Overall, it’s a strongly acted, written and directed psychological horror film that’s genuinely scary and doesn’t fall into the eye rolling franchise building cliché’s you’d expect of it.