Spoilers from the The Invisible Man


Image © Universal Pictures

The new The Invisible Man movie did a lot of good things. Not only was it a great thriller that told its story concisely, but it also had a lot of elements that it didn’t overdo and ruin the overall mood of the movie. The source material is over one hundred years old but this movie does a great job of taking an old idea and running with it to make it one of the best thrillers I’ve ever seen.

The first amazing thing about the movie is that it stars a woman. Elizabeth Moss’s performance is so amazing and blew me away. Her character is written so much better than I was ready for and so much better than most roles of a woman in a thriller. She may seem to be a damsel in distress at the beginning but it’s so much more than that. She’s not a woman who’s afraid of everything because she’s frail and weak. She’s afraid because she’s been in a mentally and physically abusive relationship for three years. Once she gets out of the relationship, there is no justice for her rich and powerful abuser. Instead, she’s stuck living on a friend’s couch afraid of every car that drives by and every ring of the doorbell. However, Cecilia (Moss) doesn’t let it consume her life and in the film, she still challenges herself to live a normal life.

Another tactic the film did right was the camera angles. Throughout the film, Cecilia believes herself to be being stalked by an invisible man. The camera shows us what this character being stalked would look like. At first, the camera angles hug corners and hide behind walls. You only get to see a little bit of Cecilia as the camera peeks over a wall that’s 20 feet behind her in another room. As the invisible man gets braver, the camera angles get more clear. Instead of creeping behind a wall 20 feet away with the door opened a crack, we’re literally in the room with her. It’s haunting to watch Cecilia suddenly turn to the corner of a room and the camera turns to stare straight back at her.

My favorite thing about the movie though is how it keeps you and the main character feeling crazy. This is in part to Moss’s acting, but the plot sets up an amazing twist. You and Moss aren’t sure whether or not there is someone following her. The build-up to the reveal is a slow burn. The first set-up they do is the apparent suicide of Cecilia’s abusive boyfriend. He’s dead so she should be safe. But is he crazy and powerful enough to fake his own death? The movie sets up supporting characters and odd situations that keep you guessing. They also do a great job of showing the main character as unstable. She’s obviously afraid because she is terrified that her ex is gonna come find her. Besides this, she begins to faint. She faints at a job interview when she realizes all of her work is missing from her briefcase. Cecilia never took the papers out but maybe she did and forgot. The movie sets up a lot of these scenarios where the answer could be an invisible man or it could just be a woman who’s so shaken up she doesn’t even remember doing certain things.

One element the movie utilized that I didn’t enjoy was their sound direction. The movie wasn’t really scary but whenever a movie suddenly plays a sound effect at double the volume of the regular audio, you’re going to jump no matter what. Besides using it for cheap jump scares, there’s a scene at the very end. It’s a character who has just overcome a massive obstacle and suddenly their world is now full of endless possibilities. They’re free to do whatever they want and as such, joyful music should play. It doesn’t. They play a song that does match the ambiguous tone of the ending but they don’t play it in and out. The song starts to play and then the volume only gets louder and louder until it cuts to the credits. It’s frustrating to hear nothing but a drone in what should be a triumphant moment.

For a movie that took a 100-year-old idea and then made a new movie, this movie was great. It didn’t rely on a singular good element and instead chose to paint a beautiful picture with all the colors of filmmaking.