Gaslighting: The Invisible Man Is as Clever as It Is Horrifying
The tale of a woman whose pain is unseen by the rest of the world
Ever since it was first written, The Invisible Man was a story that was rife for interpretation. The idea of a man acting in plain sight with the entire world oblivious to his presence is overflowing with subtext, as the various adaptations of the story can attest. Leigh Whannell (Upgrade, Insidious Chapter 3) has found a terrifyingly effective modern use for that story: as a tale of a woman dealing with an abusive, controlling relationship. The idea of a woman suffering, whose pain is unseen by the rest of the world is made doubly chilling thanks to some slick direction and a terrific lead performance.
Cecilia Kass (Elizabeth Moss) has successfully escaped the clutches of her abusive boyfriend and learns weeks later that he has died of an apparent suicide leaving her with his fortune. But when strange and increasingly deadly things start occurring around Cecilia and her loved ones, she suspects that he has faked his death and has found a way to torment her without being seen. But will anyone believe her?
Moss, who gave one of the best performances of last year in Her Smell, does more fantastic work as a traumatized woman slowly beginning to doubt her own sanity. Whannell's direction is simple but effective, filling long shots of empty rooms with unbearable dread. Although the story gets a little convoluted near the end, the film does an admirable job putting us in the protagonist's headspace. By the end, the audience will be as scared of empty space as the main character. — Forest Taylor
Written and directed by: Leigh Whannell, inspired by the novel by H.G. Wells // Starring: Elizabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen // 124 minutes // Rated R