This is definitely among the scariest movies I ever saw! Upon thinking more in-depth about it later, I noticed this movie works because it has the big three levels that guarantee effective horror: Monsters, Commonality, and Trauma. First, the obvious MONSTER scare, the type of fear that littler kids would be afraid of, but older people won’t be rattled long since they know monsters aren’t real. Second, the COMMONALITY scare, the type of fear that everyone has, such as the fear of the dark or lying wide awake at night. The third and most important level is the TRAUMA scare, one only a few have to suffer from for their whole lives.
In The Invisible Man, someone nobody can see is stalking a widow, triggering the sense of being watched by someone unstoppable, which tears apart the woman’s mentality as she believes this attacker is her abusive ex-boyfriend brought back from the grave. That’s all three.
In staging the elements that enhance these three levels of fear, the art of silence functions so the sudden loud booms work in delivering jump scares. Much attention goes to the sound design, almost the entirety of the prologue builds off the harsh, booming sound of ocean waves against rocks, a horribly tense sequence without dialogue in an escape from a high-tech house set on the seaside. The camera often shifts between handheld and stationary, a technique that would be considered amateurish when eighty percent of other movies out there use it, except here, the shift between the two camera motions suggests an uncomfortable shift between the stalker’s perspective and the victim’s.
As the edit lingers on an empty room, you sense somebody is present there… simply because. Before seeing the ex-boyfriend for the first time, he’s introduced with his hand over her, as if he already disappeared into thin air while still holding her down. The way the actors squeeze into the tight set pieces constantly utilize symbolic jellyfish imagery to increase the tight dread.
More on the effective symbolic imagery, a bedroom of windows faces the ocean to alert you that this is a dangerous place to live. Another house on a typical street has a warm lamppost outside, yet its symbolic purpose actually begs you to question whether this lady really went off the deep end. Plus, a “You Don’t Have to Face Yourself Alone” poster is hidden in the background. Although the CGI could have been better, as well as the antagonist’s motivation, the structure of all that’s seen and felt visualizes what happens when a man tries to control everything his woman thinks and does.
The way this unfortunate victim fends off her dead ex relates much to what real insane people do, it starts with her fear of stepping outside just to get the mail, but penetrates deeper: spreading ground coffee around the entire floor, breaking plates, causing a kitchen fire, certain prescription drugs proving detrimental, spilling paint, it really all gets so close to home that your skin starts to crawl. It gets worse though, at a job interview, this woman’s potential employer starts hitting on her, which means her proneness to sexual harassment isn’t in the past after all.
Elisabeth Moss (Us, The West Wing) gives among THE best performances of the year by playing the lead role, her vulnerability skyrockets your empathy for other similar victims. Moss always looks like she got zero sleep the night before, which she uses to fuel her performance in a way that almost makes it look like she’s the real villain of the story, yet it remains open enough to interpretation so she could go both ways, either perfectly sane or just seeing images of paranoia. It all keeps escalating until this poor ex-missus eventually fully becomes the very thing that traumatized her, proving her boyfriend was successful in what he wanted to do to her all along: turn her into a monster. That amount of complexity makes her performance especially terrifying because this process of her mental breakdown is true to real life.
The only bad quality about her is the fact that we already know the Academy, being prejudiced against the horror genre, will completely ignore her the same way they did Toni Collette and Lupita Nyong’o. Get ready to pull out a paddle next January to give them a good discipline spanking for who they are going to snub. So if you somehow are an Academy voter reading this, please take good notes! You’ll be much more respected by the public if you don’t go for the same old mediocre biopic performances by already famous actors, and instead give it to a genuinely passionate performance that is out for a relevant cause.
This really is the type of movie that isn’t just a thrilling experience to watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon, but raises awareness about the effects of PTSD. As someone who’s suffering from it right now, I can confirm to you that everything depicted here is frighteningly accurate at the psychological level. If you are suffering through similar as well, it might help not just you to see your painful memories acted out on screen, but more so your other loved ones so they can see the true effects of abuse, physical or emotional. Yet viewer discretion is advised, for the finale glamorizes revenge as the protagonist defies the law to get herself out of trouble.
So now going back to the big three fear factors I mentioned above, this movie fits the three types of audiences for the horror genre: those who enjoy simple popcorn entertainment, those who enjoy seeing their fears met, and those who anticipate the artful social commentary. Here’s a good bible verse that is supported by the theme The Invisible Man acts out: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
The Invisible Man. Powster. Web. <https://www.theinvisiblemanmovie.com/>.
Laffly, Tomris. “The Invisible Man.” Digital image. Roger Ebert. Ebert Digital LLC, 27 Feb 2020. Web. <https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-invisible-man-movie-review-2020>.