The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man ★★★★½

Like it or not, Marvel has revolutionized the way we see tentpole cinema. Everything from Scooby-Doo to the Universal Monsters is now striving to become the next successful "cinematic universe" The issue is that nobody wants to put in the work in the trenches to achieve Marvel level success. DC rushes to try to catch up sacrificing character and narrative along the way. While The Universal Dark Universe has made horrible attempts to revive classic horror monsters with little horror or fun. Hell, does anybody remember anything about Dracula Untold? I was there opening day and I don't remember a damn thing about it. I don't even want to talk about The Mummy...
Thus... my expectations were relatively low for an Invisible Man film from the wishy-washy Blumhouse production company with near-zero ties to the source material and a director that had potential but has yet to capitalize on it.
I don't know what happened, but Leigh Whannell woke up and decided to reach that potential. His work behind the camera is truly remarkable. His choice to oft focus on a random shot of a house to throw the viewer into a paranoia only matched by the title character is truly spine-tingling. Like It Follows, Whannell makes the Invisible horrific to great effect.
Despite the small budget, there is still an impressive amount of effects work here. Yet, it's subtle enough to where nothing in the film feels like computer-generated overload. It reminds me of some great early 2000's Sci-Fi like The Matrix where the comparable direction and knowing when to use effects makes the final product seem even more real.
Yet despite all of the production successes, the film works where films like The Mummy or Dracula Untold failed because of Invisible Man told a story that was innately human. Something like Frankenstein works because its a monster story that has a lot to say about the human experience and its relationship with its creator. Invisible Man works because it's a story about relationships and how sociopathic obsession can destroy someone's life. It's a film that can make us question how we view toxic relationships as a society and how we have to be more understanding and helpful to those trying to get out before its too late. Invisible Man is an effective horror film because it has something to say about the human experience.
This is all successful because of Moss's performance. She is able to emote so genuinely that it often comes across as creepy. She can smile so widely that at times just having normal conversations makes her character seem insane. Another horror performance that I have no doubts will be forgotten come awards time.
Still, it's not perfect. Part of the film's charm is the ambiguity of whether the main character is truly in control of her psyche. Yet, this idea is abandoned about halfway through the film in favor of a more traditional tale of revenge. I wish the film would have played with the ambiguity idea a bit more, but I can't fault it too much for trying to appeal to a wider audience.
Invisible Man is a step in the right direction for cinematic universes. They just have to remember to care about the narrative and make sure that they are trying to say something. Otherwise, what's the point?