Clever adaptation with Moss possessing a skill for silent hysteria. Moss’s co-star, the film’s score, plays the villain. The director makes an empty kitchen terrifying.
The wordless opening has a terrified woman, Cecilia Kass (Elizabeth Moss), slipping out of bed without waking up her boyfriend, Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Cecilia lives in a house she hasn’t decorated. It’s all glass, steel and vast empty spaces with an enormous laboratory in the basement. It’s a sterile mansion on a cliff with a security system that Cecilia has somewhat figured out. Adrian is a billionaire electronics mastermind without a security staff guarding the grounds and no household help.
The violent crashing waves would make anyone living in the house dependent on Xanax. We do not get a sense of Cecilia and Adrian’s relationship but she is clearly running out of the fortress for her life. How did she get herself in this position and how come she has not made a better plan for escape?
Princess Latifa, one of the 30 known children of Dubai’s leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, escaped from Dubai in February 2018 and was forcibly returned from international waters near the Indian coast by a joint India–Emirates operation on 4 March 2018. In December 2018, the Dubai royal court said that she was back in Dubai. Princess Latifa left a video explaining that she spent seven years planning her escape and had amassed $400,000 to aid in her escape.
Fun fact: Sheikh Mohammed named three of his daughters “Latifa.” It was his mother’s name.
Princess Haya, who is the sixth and youngest wife of Sheikh Mohammed, is hiding in London in a $107 million townhouse. It has been reported that she left Dubai with $40 million. The princess - who is the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister of King Abdullah - had fled the UAE to Germany with the help of a German diplomat.
Cecilia has only one friend, her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer), who drives her away from the mansion and has arranged for her to stay at the home of a cop, James (Aldis Hodge), and his teen daughter Sydney (Storm Reid).
Adrian is so demonic that Cecilia cannot even look out a window fearing he is stalking her. Cecilia is finally set free when Adrian’s brother (Michael Dorman) tells Cecilia that Adrian committed suicide and she has been left $5 million in his will. There are conditions.
Instead of leaving James’s small house with her inheritance, Cecilia stays there and provides a college trust fund for Sydney. But Cecilia is getting chilling feelings that she is being watched. When she faints at a job interview, her blood work at the E.R. indicate she has been drugged.
Would Adrian really fake his own death – with all the problems that causes - so he can drive Cecilia crazy? How come Cecilia doesn’t have a clue about Adrian’s advanced technological work? Was Adrian a solo creator of an invisibility cloak? Like Harry Potter? And if he can go invisible at will, why the need to fake his death? It’s rather disappointing that this genius would waste invisibility on such a time-consuming obsession. One could say Adrian’s goals are rather pedestrian.
Is Adrian happy? Why is he wasting invisibility powers by moving objects around Cecilia’s bare room?
There are some clever twists and a twist that is not satisfactorily explained. But there will be a sequel.
This is Elisabeth Moss’s GASLIGHT performance, with intelligence slipped in. Cecilia is not a dope but since she didn’t abscond with $40 million in cash there is no good reason why she became involved with Adrian. His genius must have been seductive and when we get a glimpse of him, he seems he can be reasonable. However, that is a sign of a sociopath.
Director-screenwriter Leigh Whannell has turned the established horror genre and iconic H.G.Wells story into a highly enjoyable, suspenseful thriller. This is a perfect role for Moss, since she is not adverse to wearing dirty, soiled clothes, no makeup and an unflattering, messed-up hairdo. Moss spends most of the film looking near tears and horrified.
According to Variety, in 2016 Johnny Depp was initially signed to star in the revamp of H.G. Wells classic tale of a chemist who embarks on a killing spree after using a dangerous drug that renders him invisible. The format was changed to star a woman and, using the highly effective BlumHouse rule of a bare budget, THE INVISIBLE MAN, with Moss headlining, is another box office win. Depp’s fee would have cost five or more BlumHouse budgets.
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Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org