I have always been a big believer than great horror doesn’t require a massive budget or big set pieces and this movie proved that on both counts. It had everything I needed and so much more. What’s most impressive is despite how familiar the story feels, it’s executed with such great technique that I was constantly captivated by everything on the screen. Let’s break it down.
At the core of the movie is a psychological struggle between two people which is probably its biggest strength. It’s very easy to get caught up with an invisible monster and make him do flashy disasters that make him flat as a character. But this movie uses Invisibility merely as a tool to elevate this claustrophobic and toxic relationship to some very unsettling extremes. In an alternate reality where the antagonist was not invisible, we could have still seen another great movie that just explored this trauma without the sci-fi elements. And with the sci-fi elements, we get something special.
But despite all its strengths, the movie will probably go under the radar because of its familiar premise. But since I am a sucker for simplistic plots that are executed with great finesse, I am left with nothing but praise. Probably my only complaint is some plot holes and conveniences that must occur to get the movie to the climax. But it’s such a great ending that I honestly couldn’t see it going anywhere else than where it did. The entire runtime is crisp, and I never felt a single minute was wasted.
The VFX and stunt work is seamless. There are selected scenes where we get to see parts of the Invisible Man and at no point do his aesthetics feel unreal. In terms of actors interacting with this character, I still haven’t fully deciphered if it was an actual “Green Screen Man” on set or actors interacting with markers and wirework or a combination of both. Either way, the stunts are realistic but impactful, and their movement never feels janky. The movie finds creative but grounded ways of showing his presence around people and how Cecilia must detect him which makes the threat feel so real.
Elizabeth Moss gives a stunning performance portraying the emotion of trauma, shock, anger and some moments of calm with such perfection that I had forgotten I was looking at the same actress that plays Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale. Especially considering she goes through some very similar emotions in that show as well. The rest of the cast is fantastic as well and no character feels disposable. We get some good screen time with Oliver Jackson-Cohen as the well which makes this invisible antagonist a fleshed-out character rather than just a monster. And I absolutely adore that. We get to see him as a psychopath in the flesh and all his actions have that much more weight to them.
The Invisible Man (2020) is just near-perfect execution of a simple and familiar setup that stands tall amongst the previous adaptations of the same material and is proof that, with horror, less is more.
Watch behind the scenes footage of The Invisible Man here.