Oliver Jackson-Cohen

Review: ‘The Invisible Man’ Is a Supercharged Psychological Thriller

If you remember the Julia Roberts film Sleeping With the Enemy, its story of domestic abuse is similar to that of The Invisible Man — only this is a supercharged version on steroids.

Jason Blum’s Blumhouse productions terrorize us once again in this psychological thriller from Universal Pictures starring Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia Kass, a woman being tortured by her ex Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), whom she believed has committed suicide. In the opening scene of the film, which parallels with the getaway scene by Julia Roberts in Sleeping With the Enemy, Cecilia is quickly packing her belongings and quietly leaving the multimillion-dollar estate she shares with Adrian and their dog. After drugging him with Diazepam causing him to fall into a deep slumber, she leaves but clumsily lets off the car alarm. Running for dear life, this first scene sets the tone for chaos, misery, and torment her husband has put her through for far too long. 

Aldis Hodge

Luckily for Cecilia, she finds solace in her friend James (Aldis Hodge) — who just so happens to be a cop. James is also a single father raising his daughter (Storm Reid), a fashion student with dreams to attend Parsons School of Design. Cecilia is broken, insecure, wrecked, and too frightened to leave the four corners of the new home she shares with James. When she does manage to muster up the courage to take a few steps outside, she sees a stranger jogging nearby with a black hoodie, immediately mistakes him for her ex, and quickly runs back inside. It’s pretty clear that Adrian has a stranglehold over Cecilia, even in death. 

Cecilia is gifted with $5 million of Adrian’s estate and that Parsons dream Sydney always wanted finally comes true when Cecilia surprises her with a full-ride of her tuition paid. All seems well, and along with a celebration of champagne to end a day of rejoicing, Cecilia Kass can finally get on with her new life.

The plot twist in The Invisible Man, which isn’t that much of a giveaway nor or spoiler for that matter, is when Cecilia discovers Adrian isn’t in fact dead exactly, he’s very much alive — he’s just invisible. Adrian Griffin — a tech scientist and probably best described as a madman version of Tony Stark — developed an advanced optic suit that allows him to manipulate vision and make himself completely invisible. Instead of using this technology for good to patent or license services that benefit tech that would help the world, Adrian chooses to use his crafty invention to torture and manipulate Cecilia’s mind — causing a descent into madness. If you need to know the definition of gaslighting, look no further. It’s written all over this story as Adrian uses deceitful tactics to convince Cecilia that she’s either crazy, a liar, or worse, a killer.

There is something about The Invisible Man that plays out like it could be a Lifetime movie with its elements of an afflicted woman being hunted by a man intent to destroy what is left of her integrity. She seeks refuge with friends and family, but even then he finds her and she is still unsafe. However, Lifetime tropes aside, The Invisible Man plays much better and has the benefit of grounded performances from Elisabeth Moss and Aldis Hodge to keep the audience engaged and entertained. Moss does an incredible job as she slowly deteriorates scene-by-scene as her sanity begins to unravel. Buckle your seat for the jump scares — there’s a few and it can get intense. The visual effects are pretty impressive as well, as the film captures moments of Adrian’s technology. 

The Invisible Man is not necessarily a horror film. It’s definitely on the psychological terror scale with some jump scares in between. What makes it compelling is seeing Moss reach into the dark parts of the human psyche. And there are a couple of plot twists that you don’t see coming that make for a fulfilling ending. 

Elisabeth Moss Madness

The Invisible Man is directed and executive produced by Leigh Whannell, from his screenplay and screen story. Whannell is one of the original conceivers of the Saw franchise who most recently directed Upgrade and Insidious: Chapter 3.

The film is also produced by Kylie du Fresne (Upgrade, The Sapphires) for Goalpost Pictures. The executive producers are Whannell, Beatriz Sequeira, Charles Layton, Rosemary Blight, Ben Grant, Couper Samuelson, and Jeanette Volturno. The Invisible Man is a co-production of Goalpost Pictures Australia and Blumhouse Productions, in association with Nervous Tick, for Universal Pictures.

The film arrives in theaters on February 28.