Granger on Film: ‘The Invisible Man’ is scary with a feminist spin
The smartest move made by writer/director Leigh Whannell (“Saw,” “Insidious”) was hiring Elisabeth Moss to play the protagonist in his contemporary re-imaging of H.G. Wells’ 1897 horror classic.
After suffering years of abuse, budding architect Cecilia Kass (Moss) has carefully planned her escape from the shadowy seaside mansion that belongs to her billionaire boyfriend, Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), an optics scientist.
Eluding the electronic surveillance and security systems, Cecilia slips out to grab a ride to San Francisco with her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer), who stashes her at the home of longtime friend/policeman James (Aldis Hodge) and his college-bound daughter, Sydney (Storm Reid).
Terrified she’s still being shadowed by Adrian, Cecilia is stunned when his sleazy brother (Michael Dorman) informs her that not only has Adrian committed suicide, but he’s also left her $5 million in his will.
But as her possessions mysteriously disappear and a kitchen fire erupts, neither the assurance of Adrian’s death nor the deposit of his money in her bank account can convince increasingly distraught Cecilia that Adrian is no longer around.
Indeed, at the risk of being declared insane, she’s firmly convinced he’s still stalking her and fully capable of wreaking havoc in her life. An atmosphere of dread prevails.
The Emmy-winning veteran of TV’s “The West Wing,” “Mad Men,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” resourceful actress Elisabeth Moss has come to embody female suffering.
Working within strict budgetary restrictions, Leigh Whannell changes the story’s focus from the crazed scientist to his victim. He cleverly intensifies the specificity of the tension, often utilizing jump scares, aided by cinematographer Stefan Duscio, production designer Alex Holmes and costumer Emily Seresin.
But Benjamin Wallfisch’s score is so loud that it becomes a distraction, rather than an enhancement.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Invisible Man” is a scary 7, placing an updated feminist spin on the unnervingly real mystery/horror concept.
Susan Granger has been an on-air television and radio commentator and entertainment critic for more than 25 years. Raised in Hollywood, Granger appeared as a child actress in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and Lassie. She currently resides in Westport.