Leigh Whannell‘s The Invisible Man (Universal, 2.28) is a reasonably well-made if somewhat rote and occasionally boring horror-thriller with a feminist slant. It’s basically a serving of calculated exploitation aimed at the #MeToo peanut gallery. That’s all it is, and all it will ever be.
It’s okay to shrug and call this piece of Blumhouse sausage a half-decent if uninspired genre exercise, but any critic who gives it an enthusiastic hug is being a political whore, trust me.
Nobody wants to dismiss a B-grade thriller that takes the side of a terrified if resourceful ex-wife (in this instance the sweaty, stressed-out, baggy-eyed Elizabeth Moss) trying to survive a campaign of terror by an invisible ex-husband. The deal is this: If you don’t like it you’re somehow unsympathetic to the cause so everyone “likes” it. Safer that way.
I shouldn’t have to repeat that we’re all living in a climate of revolutionary terror, but I guess I have to. Most critics simply can’t be trusted in such an environment. This is why The Invisible Man currently has a 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This is a relatively okay film, granted, but calm down.
I sat in the front row during last night’s Arclight screening and went “uh-huh…uh-huh…uh-huh.” After a while I gave up and went “okay, whatever.” And then I started checking my watch every 15 minutes.
The Invisible Man is basically (a) a “terrified ex-wife is stalked by a brilliant, deranged, control freak ex-husband” flick (closely related to 1990’s Sleeping With The Enemy) mixed with (b) Paul Verhoeven‘s Hollow Man (’00).
The latter, of course, was a high-tech riff on James Whale‘s original The Invisible Man (’33) with Claude Rains.
In both the Verhoeven and the newbie the invisible bad guy is a brilliant arrogant scientist (played in The Invisible Man by Oliver Jackson-Cohen and by Kevin Bacon in The Hollow Man). Moss is basically playing an antsier, more wild-eyed version of Elizabeth Shue‘s role in The Hollow Man — the panicking ex-girlfriend whose invisible boyfriend has gone bonkers. The difference this time is that Jackson-Cohen’s character was deranged to begin with. Or he was before he “died.”
Question to Whannell: Why did Moss’s Cecilia Kass, whom we’re told to sympathize and identify with…why did she marry this super-rich psycho to begin with? Because…what, she couldn’t resist the idea of being wealthy? Or because he was completely sane and level-headed when she was first falling in love with him, and he only turned into a looney-tune when he became rich? HE calls bullshit on that.