There are many ways to tell a story that has already been told. You can simply re-tell it, or add some embellishments, or you can entirely remake it into something new. The Invisible Man falls squarely into this third category. It takes the bones of a classic monster movie and re-contextualizes it for now.
The film begins with a nearly wordless sequence in which Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) quietly sneaks out of her house in the night. It’s nearly 4 am and she is terrified as she enacts the plan she has clearly been planning for weeks. She makes it almost all the way out before an alarm is accidentally triggered and Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) wakes up and gives chase.
The sequence sets up everything you need to know about the story. Cecilia is clearly a victim. Adrian, despite on seen in motion in the very last moments of the escape, is clearly a monster.
This opening sequence is a master class in efficient storytelling and in “show, don’t tell”. Leigh Whannell (who also directed 2018’s Upgrade and co-created the Saw franchise) once again proves he has a keen sense of where the camera needs to be and when with as few wasted frames as possible.
This is true throughout the movie, whether it’s the complicated camera work for a standout single-take action scene in later in the film or for the long slow pans away from Cecilia doing mundane chores to nothing –or maybe someone– and back again, the camera work is used to great effect here.
Elisabeth Moss continues to be one of the great actresses of our generation. The supporting cast is good, too, but make no mistake that this is the Elisabeth Moss show and she shines from start to finish. Cecilia’s inner story and terror is written all over her face even when she’s in no danger at all, and there’s one particularly great scene in which Moss has a conversation with an empty room that is one of the better moments of the year so far.
The Invisible Man is the second film on my Most Anticipated Films of 2020 list and it’s the second film to not let me down. You can’t see this one in theatres anymore because all the theatres are shut down but it’s available on-demand and totally worth watching while you’re all cooped up.
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