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Blu-ray Review: The Invisible Man

May 26, 2020

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

Written and directed by Australian horror filmmaker Leigh Whannell, The Invisible Man is a modern reimagining of the classic H.G. Wells novel and 1933 film of the same name, this time told from the perspective of a domestic abuse victim who makes her escape but continues to be haunted by her abuser.

Produced by hitmaker Jason Blum, Whannell’s Invisible Man works as a gripping suspense thriller with a dramatic character-focused story at its core, and serves as an excellent showcase for Elisabeth Moss, who delivers an awards-worthy performance in the lead.

The film begins with a tense opening sequence that finds Cecilia Kass (Moss) fleeing the home of her abusive partner Adrien Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) in the dead of night, with help from her younger sister Emily (Harriet Dyer). Cecilia then goes to live with her friend James (Aldis Hodge) and his teenaged daughter Sydney (Storm Reid), taking up residence at their home until she can get back on her feet.

Cecilia is struck with PTSD and can barely leave the house, but then she gets the news that Adrien has killed himself, which brings some semblance of relief that she has finally been freed from his abusive clutches. But Cecilia continues to sense his presence, and as mysterious things start happening to her, she comes to believe that the rich, tech genius Adrian is still alive, having found a way to make himself invisible in order to keep his hold over her. From here, The Invisible Man builds with several twists and turns, while serving up moments of sudden, shocking violence.

What Whannell has crafted is a superior genre exercise that is grounded in the very real trauma of a woman struggling to escape an abusive relationship, and fighting to be believed when others discount what she is experiencing. The film unfolds with a strong sense of tension, delivering a mix of effective jump scares and some thrilling fight scenes, which are bolstered by strong special effects work. Even in the film’s pulpiest moments, it’s perfectly calibrated to get under our skin and make us feel unsettled.

Moss, an actor with the unique ability to go both big and small in any given moment depending on whatever the scene calls for, really is the star attraction in The Invisible Man. She delivers a powerful performance here that takes us through a woman’s journey of trauma and finally justifiable rage as she tries desperately to take back her life, with the range of emotions that she portrays running the gamut from subtle to extreme. This is some of her best work to date.

What works about The Invisible Man is that the film doesn’t merely try to redo earlier versions of the story, but instead forges its own path, offering an original, 21st century reimagining of this character that has long been a part of horror lore through his inclusion in the classic Universal Monsters lineup. This a gripping and well crafted thriller, carried every step of the way by Moss’s exceptional performance.

The Blu-ray also includes nine deleted scenes (Annie, Changing Room Montage, Blow it Up. Make it Rain. Out to Sea., Daisies, Where’s My Phone?, Butt Chug, There’s Someone Sitting in That Chair, I Can Do This, and Insanity Defence), which offer too much in the way of exposition. These are followed by the four worthwhile featurettes Moss Manifested, Director’s Journey With Leigh Whannell, The Players, and Timeless Terror, as well as a commentary track with Whannell.

The Invisible Man is a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 124 minutes and rated 18A.

Street Date: May 26th, 2020

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