Editor’s Note: Amazon Prime has announced a service to stream movies that would be in theaters now, if not for the shelter-in-place order that has affected everyone’s lives in California and other states. Movies on the list that you can now stream at home include the animated Disney-Pixar film, Onward, Jane Austin’s Emma, The Hunt as well as a new take on The Invisible Man. You can check out Amazon’s in-theater streaming service by clicking here. For The Pioneer review of The Invisible Man, read on.
His initial short film got him a contract to write (and act in) the first “Saw” film. His friend James Wan directed, and the rest is history.
Wan went on to make the big-time films “Insidious,” “Furious 7” and “Aquaman.” Meanwhile, Whannell wrote a couple more “Saw” films and then directed the lesser “Insidious 3” and the hidden gem “Upgrade.”
Now, “The Invisible Man” may be Whannell’s belated ticket to the big league.
Elizabeth Moss has been tearing up the small screen with epic performances in “Top of the Lake” and “Handmaid’s Tale.” However, until her turn in “Us” last year, she had been in mostly unknown films. “The Invisible Man” is certainly her breakthrough on the big screen.
Moss plays Cecilia, who in the opening scene demonstrates an intense need to extricate herself from her living situation. Moss gives Cecilia a harried, yet focused resolve. Every step she takes is calculated; it is clear she has been planning this for a while. During the escape, Whannell keeps the camera almost constantly on Moss – only taking it off of her to tease us with suspense.
Whannell’s use of empty space and camera moves is top notch. We know that at some point, someone invisible is going to be coming after Cecilia. Whannell extends scenes by a few extra seconds, leaving the camera on an empty room. Did something move? Is someone there? Our heartbeats pick up ever so slowly, even though nothing has really happened yet.
The camera might follow Cecilia, but after she makes a turn, it might focus on an empty corner. The film is almost scarier before the titular character even “shows up.”
Cecilia has a hard time convincing her friends and her sister of what is happening. They think she is suffering from PTSD from an abusive relationship. As things start to break down around her, Cecilia realizes she is on her own.
Whannell stages a couple of the encounters with the Invisible Man to extremely frightening effect. We barely have time to recognize there is an object appearing to float in the air, before something goes horribly awry.
The only nitpick I have with the film is the lack of a B plot. We do not really get to know much about the other characters, and their only appearances are always in relation to Cecilia. For a two-hour movie, it is a little jarring to stick with one character the entire time.
February is not known for the release of quality films, but “The Invisible Man” is the exception. It’s a taut, suspenseful thriller in every sense of the word. Moss is terrific and Whannell demonstrates why he has been given the upcoming remake of “Escape From New York.”
After watching this movie, you may not want to look at empty corners for the rest of the day. The things we cannot see are often much scarier than those we can. A-
Jeff Mellinger is a screen writer and film buff. He holds a BA in Film Studies and an MFA in film production. He lives in Concord. Email comments to email@example.com.