Why You Should Watch: The Invisible Man (2020)

From IMDb: When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

To understand why I enjoyed this so much, I think it is worth noting how often I go into mainstream horror releases ready to be disappointed. I expect cheap jump scares, bad effects, and mishandling of serious subjects. To top it off, I’m not a fan of monster movies, and the titular invisible man is just another Universal monster.

This movie shocked me in the best way possible. It is is the most perfect combination of thrills and social commentary I’ve seen since Jordan Peele’s Get Out. If I had seen this movie in the theater, I would have clapped at the end. As it was, I was waiting during the climax for the screen to fade to black as the music swelled to say “holy SHIT that was a good movie.”

Written & directed by Leigh Whannell, this is only his third directorial feature after Insidious: Chapter 3 and Upgrade. He wrote the first few Saw films, the Insidious films, and the occasionally polarizing Dead Silence. And if you’ve seen Saw or Insidious – you know who he is because he also acted in both movies!

Leigh as Adam in Saw
Leigh as Specs in Insidious

Moments that would have been cheap jump scares with less-skilled directors are used instead to build a tense atmosphere. Numerous scenes involve the camera panning and lingering over empty space – leading our paranoia to match Cecilia’s as we wonder if someone is somehow there.

I was worried about watching a movie about a character being gaslight and having to convince her friends and family of the outrageous danger she is in, but I’m relieved to say the whole movie isn’t constantly watching Cecelia beg other characters for understanding. While it does happen, the pacing keeps the story moving and cause her to quickly realize she needs to try and figure out what is going on with or without anyone else’s help.

I have also realized I really appreciate novelty or surprise in horror films, and this film constantly kept me guessing without going off the carefully laid rails it was on.

Random Observations

  • This is one of the best opening sequences in a horror film since Scream. Sans dialogue, it paints a vivid picture of the terror Adrian has caused and the lengths Cecelia must go to in order to escape him.
  • This movie has one of the most shocking WTF?! out of nowhere moments I have seen in a LONG time. So many horror films abuse the “It was all a dream!…Or was it?” that I just sort of expected the scene would inevitably be revealed to be a dream. It was not.
  • We get to know Cecelia as a genuine and warm yet troubled person. She is so well-drawn and reminds me of women I’ve actually known. I know people have been singing high praise of Elisabeth Moss for years now but I’m finally on the hype train now as well.
  • Even the concept of invisibility is made perfectly modern without being ridiculous.
  • The soundtrack is amazing. The swelling music at the end gets you hyped as the utterly satisfying ending washes over you – the ending music really makes it feel like an older film with a sweeping soundtrack, while the music throughout has deliciously modern cues and speed. The suspenseful portions of the music remind me of the Mr. X music from the Resident Evil 2 remix. It has that electronic drop that reminds me of an image getting pixelated and messed up that lets you know shit is about to go down.
  • Also I love that the main character’s name is often shortened to “Ce” – of course sounding like the word “see.” These little touches all build into a damn near perfect movie.

This is one of the best movies period (regardless of genre) I have seen in a long time. The impeccable acting, genuine scares, and social commentary play perfectly in tandem with one another. It is such a shame it was released shortly before the COVID pandemic began in full swing because it deserves to be an instant horror classic.

This one can be watched with other people or just on your own. Just do yourself a solid and go in as blank as possible on the plot. This really needs to be experienced from start to finish to appreciate the flow and polish.

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