A #MeToo horror film that couldn’t be any more timely if it shuffled into a courtroom with a Zimmer frame, ‘The Invisible Man’ retools HG Wells’s seminal sci-fi novel into a tart statement on toxic men and their gaslighting ways. It’s not flawless – the supporting characters are thinly sketched and intrepid plotholers will have a field day – but it’s surprisingly smart and, crucially, it has Elisabeth Moss to cover the bits that aren’t.
Moss can pull off Joan Crawford brittle and Sigourney Weaver badass, and she holds it all together as Cecilia, an architect traumatised by her abusive tech entrepreneur husband, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Within the opening moments, she’s drugged him, scaled the walls of their modernist seaside slab and legged it. Soon, Griffin is reported dead by suicide. But is he? And why have things started going bump in the night? Is there a Hubbadook at large, tormenting her from beyond the grave?
Aussie writer-director Leigh Whannell (‘Saw’), doubling Sydney for San Francisco, is a natural fit for the material. ‘The Invisible Man’ is respectful to the classic Universal monster movie with which it shares its name (look out for a cameo from those trademark bandages), but this is no reverential retread. It has ideas of its own, specifically around the way an abusive relationship can turn a life into a prison.
Its greatest coup, though, is in gaslighting the entire audience. You’ll find yourself scouring the frame for this malign force in the tiniest refraction of light. Whannell knows you’re doing it, too, and lets scenes go on so long, you start to doubt your own eyes. There shouldn’t be any doubting the magnetic Moss, though: she’s the real deal.