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The Invisible Man (2020) Review

I Write These Movie Reviews Locked in the Trunk of Your Car. Thanks for the Snacks!!

the-invisible-man-2020-review

MPAA Rating

R

Running Time

124 minutes

Director

Leigh Whannell

Writer

Leigh Whannell

You are now 4 paragraphs into this review. You just didn’t know it because all the words were invisible.

So does Elisabeth Moss’ character in The Invisible Man for a decent portion of the movie. It’s just a consequence of the ability to turn invisible.

That seems pretty tame. I thought you’d say something like you’d walk into a shower and just watch people shower all day. Or if you were a Catholic Priest, well, you could probably figure out where I’m going next with that.

I didn’t think you’d outright say that that since this is a family show, but that seems like a perfect segue into our The Invisible Man review since the Catholic church has a long history of abusing altar boys and girls and nuns and Elisabeth Moss’ character is trying to get away from an abusive relationship.

The Invisible Man is a lot more fun because it’s not real.

Yay!

Totally Visible Synopsis

The Invisible Man opens with our heroine Rihanna, I meant Cecilia (The Handmaid’s Tale, Us) using some sneaky style chicanery to finally escape from her abusive boyfriend Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, no relation to Samuel L Jackson except that he’s his grandson and niece at the same time- it’s complicated and requires graphs and charts). It looks like she’s been planning this for weeks or even months or even hours. Maybe she’s trying to escape the fact she was in the awful Kitchen last August. It’s probably just the abusive boyfriend.

Cecilia’s super-loyal sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) picks her up on the side of a random road, but not before Adrian almost catches her.

Cecilia has escaped. For now.

Is he behind her? Probably.

Is he behind her? Probably.

It’s been a couple of days and Cee is still more than a little paranoid that Adrian is still out there. Adrian is very rich and a leader in the world of “optics” (whatever that means). Her feeling of safety is tenuous at best.

Cee is living with Emily’s cop friend James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid). Cee considers it a victory that she can walk out of the house and make it all the way to the mailbox. James is black and a cop so he considers it a victory that his white co-workers don’t pull him over and shoot him and Sydney.

Cee is rearranging the refrigerator vegetables in alphabetical order when Emily comes over with some awesome news. It turns out Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen- 7.5th cousin to fictional character Chunk Cohen from The Goonies) killed himself as he was so distraught over Cecilia leaving him. Good. F*ck Adrian.

Cee doesn’t believe it.

Emily says it’s true.

Cecilia still doesn’t believe it. But it’s on a printed newspaper so it has to be authentic. Everybody loves and trusts news that appears on paper products.

The Handmaid's Hoodie.

The Handmaid's Hoodie.

It turns out that abusive Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen- direct descendant of the 7th President of the United States Andrew Jackson) really is dead, according to his brother and trust attorney Tom (Michael Dorman). Adrian (Oliver Jackson Cohen- One of the original white members of the Jackson 6- he was kicked out stuffing Tito in a refrigerator and then they became the Jackson 5) left Cecelia $5 million dollars to be paid in installments provided she does not commit any crimes or appear in a Kitchen sequel.

Cecilia and the audience wonders why Adrian would leave her all that money.

Now that Adrian is dead, maybe Cecilia can move on and start a new life. We know from the trailer that’s not going to happen.

We learn that Cecilia was studying to be an architect before Adrian tried to control every aspect of her life. She tries applying for a job, but all her sketches seem to have disappeared from her briefcase. She was sure she put them in there earlier that day. Also, she faints from an overdose of prescription drugs that she doesn’t remember taking.

Cecilia’s probably not going to get the job.

The knife would be more effective than the bag in cutting someone...or thing.

The knife would be more effective than the bag in cutting someone...or thing.

Over the next couple of days, barely noticeable but unfortunate things start happening and Cecilia thinks she’s losing her mind. James is a cop and he’s seen this kind of thing from abusive relationships. James thinks that even in death Adrian is still trying to control her.

It isn’t long before Cecilia realizes that Adrian isn’t dead at all. It sounds kooky, but he might just be…unable to be seen. Or something that sounds just like that. You’ve seen the trailer and know most of what’s happening, but there are actual surprises in the movie that the trailer doesn’t give away. How novel.

James and Sydney give each other the “white people are f*cking crazy” look.

Is he behind her? Probably.

Is he behind her? Probably.

What Works With The Invisible Man

  • The opening scene is fraught with anxiety that doesn’t really let up until the end credits. We’ve all heard or read stories about how hard it is to escape from an abusive relationship and writer/director Leigh Whannell (2018’s excellent Upgrade, 2015’s not bad Insidious Chapter 3) lets this scene play in a way that’s not exploitive but never drained of any tension.
  • Crushing it on the regular on Hulu’s comedy The Handmaid’s Tale and doing independent movies with Alex Ross Perry hipsters swear by but no one’s actually seen, Elisabeth Moss owns a lead role in a mainstream movie. Victim of abuse to taking violent control of one’s life back is a relatively familiar arc we’ve seen before. That doesn’t mean Moss is never less than compelling. From the opening frame to her final shot, you feel and empathize for Cecilia even during Man’s more traditionally fantastical moments. Moss’ best onscreen performance having nothing to do with wearing Offred’s bonnet.
  • A scene in a restaurant so perfectly executed the audience I was with gasped in shock and surprise. One of the best scenes of 2020 and has a better than average chance of remaining so before the year ends.
  • After that flaccid Black Christmas remake and the practically PG and scare-free Fantasy Island, Blumhouse studios finally has a winner. Rated R Blumhouse is so much better than the PG-13 garbage they market to tweens, but where else are actors from the CW supposed to get movie roles?

What Doesn’t Work With The Invisible Man

  • I realize this comes with the territory of a limited Blumhouse budget and this is only a minor objection in a very good movie, but most of Man takes place in drab indoors which never gives Whannell a chance to display any visual style. The story is strong enough that it never becomes a hindrance. All it means is Leigh Whannell’s movies need more of a budget next time.
Trying to avoid anyone who paid to see The Kitchen.

Trying to avoid anyone who paid to see The Kitchen.

Overall

The Invisible Man is the best horror movie 2020 so far. I realize that with sh*t like The Grudge, Fantasy Island and The Turning that isn’t saying much. Which is all the more reason you should see this in theaters. Just make sure you’re alone in the shower. That has nothing to do with the movie, just seems like good advice overall.

Really 4.5 but I’m rounding up because why not

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