With a background in the “Saw” and “Insidious” movie franchises, writer/director Leigh Whannell puts enough clever twists into the classic tale of “The Invisible Man” to keep you interested but its Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia that makes you believe this disappearing act.
As the movie opens, Cecilia stages an overnight escape from the home she shares with Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) – an abusive, controlling yet genius optics expert. With the help of her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer), Cecelia gets a roadside rescue. Adrian, upon awakening, finds Cecilia has drugged him with Dyazapan to make Adrian sleep through her sneaking out.
Holed up at a friend’s house, Cecilia worries Adrian will come for her. Two weeks later, Emily appears with good news: Adrian has committed suicide and left his estate to Cecilia. Even Adrian’s brother/lawyer Tom (Michael Dorman) can’t contest the conditions. Doubting Adrian’s dead despite evidence to the contrary, Cecilia accepts the estate money to start over. Whether through guilt, the effect of Adrian’s abuse or the nagging suspicion she’s right about Adrian being alive, Cecilia can’t shake the feeling she’s being watched.
Accepting an interview to pursue her artistic talents, Cecilia finds her portfolio oddly empty when asked to present her work and soon succumbs to a fainting spell. When a hospital visit reveals she’s been drugged, Cecilia returns home to find the source of her stupor- the same bottle of Dyazapan used on Adrian. With this calling card to confirm her suspicions, Cecilia has to find the source of this staged charade. Is Adrian alive or is this the work of another unseen adversary? It’s not long before the Invisible Man ‘appears’ and becomes a physical threat to Cecilia.
With any good Invisible Man story, mischief and madness mix with menace. Usually, we saw this insanity first-hand through the Invisible Man’s eyes (as with the 1933 original with Claude Rains or 2000’s “Hollow Man” with Kevin Bacon). With Whannell focusing on Cecilia and her point-of-view, we get some effective and surprising scares since we (literally and figuratively) don’t see the Invisible Man attacks coming.
At times, you may find logistical lags or question the scientific plausibility of what’s happening, but you never doubt Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia. Looking every bit the former abuse victim who must become vindicator, Moss puts an emotional imprint on Cecilia. Frazzled and fatigued, Moss gets your attention and makes you want Cecilia to succeed in finding her foe. While Whannell’s “The Invisible Man” is a neat new spin on an old classic, you’ll find Elisabeth Moss is the ‘clear’ star.