“Invisible Man” offers a different take on horror
In the traditional scheme of monsters born from popular culture, there undoubtedly lie performances that tend to dominate the zeitgeist: Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula and the Mummy. The Invisible Man, on the other hand, carries a greater message in perhaps the more palatable form of a well-adjusted and wealthy man.
“The Invisible Man” (2020) is the second theatrical adaptation of the 1897 novel by H.G. Wells that provides a refreshing take on the classic story of a demented man who is able to turn invisible and torment his wife.
Elisabeth Moss, also playing Offred in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” provides a groundbreaking performance as Cecilia Kass, a woman who attempts to escape her abusive husband, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), but ultimately causes his suicide. Kass’s experiences are brought to life through a lens of psychological realism rather than the cookie-cutter horror clichés of jump scares and dark screens. Her descent to madness is examined and interpreted as the catalyst for further misfortunes. Moreover, Griffin’s ability to be invisible transcends the initial novelty of the idea to be a commentary on something much greater — that it elevates the ability to be manipulative, abusive and gain power.
Kass’s regression to the brink of insanity follows a sequence of events in which she finds herself feeling gaslighted by someone she is perpetually unable to find. The invisible nature of her late husband is a hindrance to her daily life as she is forced to reckon with the idea that supernatural forces are overtaking her life. She soon loses control over daily tasks and is accused by others for house fires and violent encounters. Kass, despite being the victim of the Invisible Man, is blamed for his actions, a phenomenon demonstrative of the film’s commentary on victim blaming that prevails throughout each scene.
The cinematography resembles more of an avant-garde indie film rather than a psychological thriller, with shots that provide expository context for the purpose of aestheticism rather than sensationalism. Through obligatory close-ups, Moss’s performance of a traumatized and hurting woman is able to effectively shine.
The film is exhilarating, powerful and a thrill from beginning to end. What sets “The Invisible Man” apart from other films in its class is its cultural significance. Its examination and assessment of the human psyche and the limits to which one’s emotions and mental state can be violated is unique among horror films.
In spite of its thrilling premise, “The Invisible Man” is able to nonetheless convey truths about humans and our way of dealing with trauma. It furthermore emphasizes that monsters may not be separate from us, as it examines the aspects of ourselves that can be destructive, deranged yet unmistakably human.
By Ashley Liang, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Amazon