The Invisible Man (dir. Whannell)

Image: Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man © Photo by Universal Pictures [Source: IMDB]


When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

Director: Leigh Whannell. Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer [15]

The concept of The Invisible Man lends itself wonderfully to credited writers in layering interesting subtext. It’s hard for me not to think of 2000’s Hollow Man when approaching this film as believe it or not that is a film for all its faults I believe does rather well to create a tense and layered thriller about identity. With this 2020 edition to the catalogue of invisible men films, the writers have quite clearly tried to weave a somewhat on the nose subtext to domestic abuse.

It’s handled brilliantly by writers and director both. The plot manages to go in directions to position our character as a victim of domestic abuse as well as a victim of a psychotic genius with the means to create something like this. It double positions itself and with direction that perfectly captures the foreboding tension of empty space and dead air it makes for a thrilling ride from start to finish. Accompanied by high-end performances and a sensational star performance from Elizabeth Moss who is making quite the catalogue of parts in key films of the last two years. She both manages to portray a strong independent woman but the fragility that comes with her near PTSD over traumatic abuse from a relationship.

The writing through her performance helps us feel exactly what the main character might be going through and makes painting an antagonist come easily. But this brings about problems in the climax of the plot when the lines of good and bad become merged over hate and emotional gratification. The film along with its narrative completely abandons reason for satisfaction in the face of a popcorn thriller. By no means is this a complete detriment, the plot still holds tight and is intense as any superhero blockbuster or horror film. But where Hollow Man sought to show what might happen if someone lost their identity and having to look at themselves in the mirror. The freedom of being a ghost. In The Invisible Man, it simply seeks to create a tense thriller, which it does with flying colours. But while it does give some subtextual meaning with the domestic abuse metaphor, it does leave something to be desired.

The film could have easily have painted a much more ambiguous narrative and climax that better served the metaphor for PTSD from a domestically abusive relationship. By having the audience never know truly if there is an invisible man or it is all simply a manifestation of her PTSD. That I feel might have drawn away from the glaring predictability of the narrative in its climax and the loss of believability and realism. Still, the Invisible Man makes for a sensationally gripping presence.

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