Among the classic movie monsters, the Invisible Man has never really stood out—pardon the pun. He is perhaps the most human and mundane of the lineup, lacking the drama and tragedy of icons like Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and Wolfman. He is not a damned creature driven by impulses beyond his control. Rather, he offers a lesson in the tempting power and freedom that comes with being unseen. What is man capable of when no one is watching? The answer is simple: Nothing good. 

The latest adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel takes a different approach. Our modern-day mad scientist Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is a non-entity even before he undergoes his transformation. While the idea of him looms large over the entire film, the focus is on Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss), the woman who has escaped a violent, controlling relationship with the sociopathic Adrian. Reframed around one of the monster’s victims, the narrative is no longer about man’s capacity for wickedness. Instead, it’s a story of the ways men seek to control women and the repercussions of abuse.

The Invisible Man wouldn’t work without a strong lead performance, and Moss is fantastic, bringing both intimate vulnerability and steely determination to Cecilia. The supporting cast is a little more thinly drawn, simply alternating between sympathy for our protagonist and doubt that her abusive ex is continuing to menace her—if there’s anything this new Invisible Man can do well, it’s gaslight. Behind the camera, director Leigh Whannell (best known for the Saw and Insidious franchises) effectively builds tension without resorting to too many jumpscares. Overall, it makes for an exciting modernization, and unlike a lot of remakes, the film avoids feeling like a retread of a story that’s already been told too many times.

Should you see it? Yes, it is an insightful new take on a classic.— S.W.
Viewed at Regal Gravois Bluffs