Directed by Leigh Whannell [Other horror films: Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015), Upgrade (2018)]
As soon as I heard this story was being remade, I was pretty interested. The original Universal classic is a favorite of mine, so I was curious as to how such a story could be updated to fit into the modern times, and though I was moderately impressed with this adaptation, it was not enough to see this film as much more than average.
One pretty interesting idea that took me aback (in part, due to it’s simplicity) was the idea that the main character (played by Elisabeth Moss) would be taken as mentally unstable due to her claims that an invisible man was after her. This psychological approach isn’t really present at all in the original, and I thought they did nicely with the idea, and it did lead to some rather tense moments.
Elisabeth Moss (who I know best from her appearances on The West Wing, but she was also in the low-budget outing The Attic) did really solid as a battered yet strong-willed woman, and while I didn’t necessarily love where some of her story went, she did great here. Even better, though, was Aldis Hodge – I don’t know him from anything whatsoever, but he had a calming aura about him that I appreciated throughout the film.
More mixed was Harriet Dyer’s character. I loved how she stood up for her sister for much of the beginning, but once an angry email is sent to her (supposedly by said sister), she entirely shuts Moss’ character out, which just struck me as needlessly vindictive. I mean, I’m pretty sure emails have been hacked in the past, and more to the point, why anyone would think someone would send an email like that and then show up as if nothing happened is just beyond me. Dyer’s character was certainly decent, and she did a good job with that performance (and let’s not forget the rather surprising conclusion to her character), but that little bit of the film did bother me.
Lastly, we have Michael Dorman and Oliver Jackson-Cohen. Dorman (previously in Triangle) consistently had that smug attitude that just made you want to punch him, and especially toward the end, you were likely just so done with his character (that scene in the mental hospital especially was just horrible, yet fitting, for him). Jackson-Cohen didn’t get a lot of screen-time, but I definitely felt that, while palatable, he didn’t give anywhere near as memorable a performance as Claude Rains.
And I think that’s the moderately problematic downside of the film. Certainly there were a decent amount of both suspenseful and emotional scenes (in a movie that clocks in at over two hours, including credits, you would hope so), but how many of them were memorable? Maybe that kitchen scene early on, just due to the way it’s filmed. That attic reveal about an hour in, and of course the dinner scene with Moss and her sister. Lastly, maybe the breakout, which was reasonably fun. But that’s not really enough to make the movie great.
I still think this version of The Invisible Man is decent, though. While I think it runs overlong, and some sequences don’t interest me as much (such as going back to the coastal house and finding the invisibility suit), and while the gas lighting aspect was suitable for the story, the whole of the conclusion just didn’t sit entirely right with me (though I don’t judge Moss’ character whatsoever).
Overall, I enjoyed the film. I don’t think it was great, and I honestly don’t think it’ll turn out to be memorable, but it still provided a decent time. Naturally, I prefer the 1933 original, which I find a much more fun and enjoyable time, but this adaptation had solid things going for it. I just pretty much think it broke even with some story issues and it’s unnecessary length.