Following up his incredibly entertaining — albeit somewhat forgettable — action cyberthriller, Upgrade, writer/director Leigh Whannell revitalizes Universal Studios’ iconic horror roster with The Invisible Man, an anxiety-inducing reinvention of the classic movie monster.
Gone is the melodramatic, scenery-chewing performance of a bandaged Claude Rains from the 1932 original film (or practically any resemblance to H.G. Wells’ source text). In its place is a timely tale of abuse and the trauma of being a victim, all anchored by a riveting performance from Elisabeth Moss.
The film begins with Cecilia (Moss) escaping the clutches of her abusive, controlling boyfriend (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House”) in a truly nail-biting sequence. A few weeks after breaking free, she learns that her ex committed suicide sometime in the aftermath, prompting Cecilia to try to get started with her new life. However, after a handful of strange occurrences, she begins to suspect that her old lover might not be dead.
To reveal what happens from there would be a disservice. The Invisible Man is a lean, mean horror mystery with so many twists and turns (perhaps one too many) that it’s best to go in with no prior knowledge of what’s to come. All I’ll say is that there are sequences that made even a horror junkie like me gasp in frightened shock.
As John Carpenter successfully reinterpreted The Thing in 1982 and David Cronenberg wonderfully reimagined The Fly in 1986, Whannell has done the same for The Invisible Man in 2020. By taking a genuinely great film but flipping it on its head to make it resonate with modern audiences, it’s a shining example of a remake done right.