Elisabeth Moss (Her Smell) continues her streak of noteworthy performances in The Invisible Man, a film with so-so jump scares, a rather terrifying core premise, an important message and an otherwise chilling resolution likely to stay with its viewers long after—even if that resolution feels half-baked.
Moss is Cecilia, a woman we meet as she's escaping an abusive relationship with some kind of Silicon Valley optics genius/billionaire. Controlling doesn't begin to describe her ex's behavior, and the aftermath finds Cecilia struggling to do things as simple as leaving the house of her bud James (Aldis Hodge), a cop and father with a heart of gold. But then the ex winds up dead, or so it seems, and Cecilia gets back to living her normal life—right up until she's pretty sure he's somehow been able to turn himself invisible and is stalking her at every turn.
The slow yet steady isolation begins as the ex starts making Cecilia look like a violent and crazy sociopath to the rest of the world. Unable to convince her friends and loved ones that her reportedly dead former partner is alive and invisible, she descends deeper into the abyss, frightened and detached and powerless. Moss has said in interviews that the movie's like one long metaphor for gaslighting, and while the stakes are more intense than they must feel to everyday people suffering from proximity to a narcissist, the song remains the same—and it's awful.
Moss is brilliant, steadfast in her convictions but teetering on the edge of what she believes is real or not. The situations in which she finds herself prove increasingly dire and bleak, and though The Invisible Man shows the fallout of her ordeal in excruciating detail, and though it often seems like she'll be unable to emerge from the nightmare, we learn the importance in believing women or, rather, in trying to not make people in general feel insane for feeling their feelings.
In a post-Get Out world, where horror films plumb the depths of issues long lurking in the darkness (such as racism or gaslighting), movies like The Invisible Man feel urgent in a way the monster flicks and serial killer fare of yesteryear never did. Moss's Cecilia gets her resolution, alright, and while it raises other questions about how we're supposed to handle our emotions, it certainly feels satisfying. Just be warned that writer/director Leigh Whannell digs deep into some painfully relatable topics that could be triggering for some.
+Timely and scary; Moss is wonderful
-Slow to start, fast to resolve
The Invisible Man
Directed by Whannell
With Moss and Hodge
Violet Crown, Regal 14, R, 124 min.