If you, like me, have spent the week watching Love Is Blind and want to rehabilitate your melted brain with something slightly — just slightly — less deranged, I’d recommend going to see The Invisible Man in theaters this weekend. With its unhinged plot machinations and campy murder scenes, it’s sort of like like a big-budget You, and would be a great way to spend your leap year day on February 29.
The Invisible Man is a horror-thriller from Universal starring Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia, “C,” a woman who escapes her abusive boyfriend Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) only to find out that Adrian, “a leader in the field of optics” who supposedly died by suicide early in the film, is actually still alive, and has designed a suit that makes him completely invisible.
Adrian then spends a good chunk of the film torturing C, all while invisible, which makes everything very freaky and causes C to feel like she’s losing her mind. He starts by doing small, get-in-your-head stuff: setting a pan on fire and moving things around, sitting in a chair as C gazes in horror at the butt-print. And then, as soon as she realizes that he’s invented a way to become invisible, he kicks things up a notch; he starts attacking people around her — at one point with a ridiculous, floating steak knife — and generally pushing her to the brink of mental sanity.
A movie this deranged can only come from the mind of Leigh Whannell, the guy that scarred a generation of teenage brains with the Saw franchise. Critics have praised it as a fresh, clever adaptation of an old horror trope (the original invisible man, from H.G. Wells’s 1897 novel The Invisible Man) but one that turns the camera on the victim, and Whannell himself has said it plays with ideas “of gaslighting, domestic abuse, and women not being believed or feeling like there’s an unseen threat.”
The film does all of this successfully, but it also doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a genuinely enjoyable — and terrifying — watch (prepare for jump scares that will make you scream and pee and laugh, sometimes all at once.) Tonally, it’s rather like an elevated Lifetime movie: a bit ridiculous and very pulpy but impossible to stop watching.