[su_dropcap size=”5″]I[/su_dropcap]f you’ve seen the trailers for The Invisible Man, you’d be more than justified in thinking–to borrow a phrase a junior high football coach used to describe me–that it looks “goofier than all get-out.” And you’d be right. After all, a woman writhing on the kitchen floor, shrieking at an invisible assassin can only be taken so seriously. That said, if you can give way to this film’s unapologetic wackiness, it will provide two hours of disposable entertainment. Otherwise, you might be better off in an invisible audience.
Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) is stuck in a long-term relationship with Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a tech gazillionaire with a decidedly O.J. Simpson-ish approach to women. She resolves to escape his abuse, slips him a mickey, and makes a daring getaway. It ain’t too long before Cecilia gets word that Adrian, in a fit of abject loneliness, has committed suicide. Free of his physical and emotional torment, she breathes a sigh of relief and attempts to baby step back into a normal life.
Things get weird when Adrian leaves Cecilia a decent chunk of his estate. Unfortunately, these millions come with a few odd contingencies: In order to stay rich, Cecilia has to keep on the right side of the law and in a clear state of mind. As she moves in with a longtime friend (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter (Storm Reid), Cecilia finds herself tormented by what seems like a belligerent poltergeist. She quickly deduces that Adrian faked his death and is using his gadget savvy to prowl in perfect stealth as the title character. Now, Cecilia must somehow stop her hidden stalker and convince everyone that she hasn’t gone, you know, ’round the bend.
From that setup, The Invisible Man delivers a fair amount of thrills and a few surprising cinematic flourishes. Several key sequences–including the lengthy opening–pass with little or no dialogue. I admire the audacity of any film that can use silence and patience to build some good old-fashioned tension. Also, a key fight scene occurs in one long unbroken take. That’s pretty impressive artistry for a movie about an invisible boogeyman.
Moss has always been an actress of great conviction, and she brings a volatile blend of brittle passion and blossoming self-worth to Cecilia. Horror protagonists can be smart, but this intelligence usually gets chucked aside when it’s convenient to the plot. The fact that Cecilia lands in danger without acting profoundly stupid is a testament to Moss and writer-director Leigh Whannell.
Despite these achievements, The Invisible Man nearly founders under the weight of its own flab. At 124 minutes, the film goes on far too long. A leaner, meaner editing job would’ve given the story more punch. Don’t be shocked if a few lingering scenes have you checking your watch.
That said, I’ll still give The Invisible Man a tentative recommendation. I suspect the current lack of movie theaters will greatly alter the way we shop for movies. It’s no small commitment to pick a film, trek to a theater, and slog through previews. This may not be a movie worth all that fuss, but it’s perfect as a what-the-hell rental. Demanding times call for undemanding movies. We need something goofier than all get-out right now. The Invisible Man fits that bill perfectly.
124 min. R.