- Katie Bell
The Invisible Man (2020)
Updated: May 2, 2020
I'm going to start this review with life advice: if someone jumps in your car and commands you to drive, don't ask why! Just do it! Just do it, Emily!
The Invisible Man is a really fantastic film. If you've seen the trailer, you might know that already. If you've read any other review, you'll definitely know that by now, but we like to think that you waited a few extra days to read what Inconceivable! Reviews have to say... And gosh, where do I start?
Firstly, this film begins with Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) escaping from her own home in the dead of the night. From the moment that she wakes up, and cautiously moves around the room, you know that she isn't doing it because she's madly in love with her husband, Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and detests even the thought of interrupting his beauty slumber. She's afraid. In fact, she's terrified. And Moss delivers this fear perfectly. It's evident from the beginning that to Cecilia, this house is a prison. It's equipped with all of the latest security gadgets: pin code entry pads, security cameras and alarm systems. She has to silently de-activate all of these, in order to attain her freedom. All of these safety blankets, that should ideally be used to keep intruders out, instead have facilitated Adrian's methods of keeping Cecilia in. If you've seen the trailer, you've probably guessed that Cecilia makes it out (by the skin of her teeth) and seeks refuge with friend James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid). Of course, the invisible man tracks her down, and enacts revenge...
It's important to note, that thematically this film obviously addresses domestic violence. However, it does so in an incredibly three-dimensional fashion. Not only do we see the fear that Cecilia experiences in her own home, but after she has escaped, that trauma doesn't simply disappear. Just a short walk to James' mailbox, is incredibly distressing for her and the sound design is used beautifully to highlight this. Additionally, despite being away from Adrian, it is clear that Cecilia never feels quite safe, and it is only when she finally does have a moment of complete relief and safety that she even begins to talk to James and her sister Emily about what it was like to live with her husband. All of this seems self-explanatory, but I cannot emphasise enough how powerful Moss' portrayal of Cecilia is. I think it's really important for audiences to see that leaving a domestic violence situation, doesn't necessarily automatically stop the fear that victims experience. This movie powerfully explores that concept.
When the invisible man makes his first appearance, (you get what I mean) he toys with Cecilia. I found these moments to be the most terrifying of the whole movie. Firstly, because you can never tell exactly where he is. However, the camera will slowly pan one way or another. You don't really notice anyone in the shot (although I'd love to rewatch for a closer look), but you know someone is watching, and Cecilia can feel it too. It's a feeling we've all felt, in the darkness of night. A chill runs down your spine, and you suspect you aren't alone. For Cecilia however, it's real. And that's really creepy, because you are well aware of the fact that she is powerless to stop it. The camera continues to play with the audience, and the invisible man continues to play with Cecilia. The most terrifying part, is that he knowingly does things that prove to her that he is there, but are invisible to everyone else. Cecilia is heard crying out, "You have to listen to me!" or begging, "I need you to believe what I'm about to tell you". Of course, no one does (as seen in the trailer). The creepy camera movement and Cecilia's experiences tell the audience that it's true, but no one on the screen seems to believe her. And the whole time, all you can think to yourself in the audience, is that invisible man or not, this is what many victims of domestic violence experience when they try to speak up: total disbelief and scepticism from those they are closest to. Honestly, this film is incredibly intelligent in its delivery of its central themes. Although, the horror/thriller genre isn't one that I'm terribly well-acquainted with, I can say that I've never experienced a scary film with such an important social message underpinning it.
This is the first time I've felt truly scared in the cinema. However, unlike a lot of other terrifying films, this one also made me contemplate my treatment of others and my understanding of domestic violence. Sure, I already knew a lot of what was in the film. However, it's one thing to be able to regurgitate facts, and another thing entirely to empathise with a character in those circumstances. To see her feel completely isolated, alone and helpless and to want to reach through the screen and help (but obviously that would never work). This one makes you think. Moss is phenomenal, and so is the camera work and sound design. It's an almost 10/10 for me, and will be going straight on the DVD shelf upon its release.