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FILM REVIEW: The Invisible Man smart, riveting and truly terrifying

It’s said all the time — there are no new ideas in Hollywood just remakes and reboots, sequels and trilogies, dressing up old ideas and calling them brand new.
Elisabeth Moss stars as Cecilia Kass in “The Invisible Man.” Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

It’s said all the time — there are no new ideas in Hollywood just remakes and reboots, sequels and trilogies, dressing up old ideas and calling them brand new.

Director Leigh Whannell joins the ranks of rebooters this weekend with the release of The Invisible Man.

Based on a story written by H.G. Wells more than 120 years ago, Whannell does something remarkable with the old idea. He takes only the most basic conceit — an invisible man and a grotesque love story — and turns it into a film that’s technologically advanced, modern and timelier than anything I’ve seen this year.

Elisabeth Moss of (take your pick) The Handmaid’s Tale, Mad Men and West Wing fame, stars as Cecelia Kass, an architect trapped in an abusive relationship with a controlling, sociopathic tech mogul.

It begins with her wide eyed at 4 a.m., waiting to put her carefully planned escape into action. Whannell lures us in with old school scares, creaking doors, a daring escape, a sleeping monster, a sudden jolt, and just like that — she’s free.

The audience collectively exhales and we watch as she moves in with a childhood friend (a six-foot police officer – never a bad choice) and his teenage daughter and waits for the inevitable move from her ex.

But it never comes. Instead, she’s told he killed himself after she left. Not only is she free, he left her $5 million. If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.

She realizes very quickly that in fact he’s very much alive, and much to her dismay and disbelief has invented some kind of technology to become invisible.

He was an abusive sadist before, and now he can go literally anywhere and do literally anything completely unseen. Torturing while invisible might be the perfect crime, because, as Cecelia learns, even people close to her think she’s losing her marbles when she tries to explain what she knows is happening but can’t see.

She is the living embodiment of the #MeToo movement – a horror story rooted in the idea of believing a woman trying to convince the world that the danger she faces and abuse she suffers isn’t all in her head.

It’s an impossible task, and one painstakingly conveyed with every cringe, shudder and flinch Moss conveys. Her performance is so grounded in the realities of PTSD and years of abuse it can be hard to watch.

The good news is that the twists and turns are smart and thoughtful and blindsiding. Each scream the movie evokes is more delicious than the last, and just when you think you’ve figured it out, you may find yourself so scared that you cover your eyes so you won’t see … the invisible man.

This one deserves to be seen in a theatre with an audience simply because it’s so much fun to taken in the communal screams and gasping.

Rarely is a truly terrifying movie so well done that at the end, despite a racing pulse and slightly unhinged need to check your home for invisible people, you want to sit down and see it all over again.

But you will.

Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia.

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