The Invisible Man (M18)
Starring Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Aldis Hodge
Directed by Leigh Whannell
One would think that a movie like The Invisible Man has a lot of SPFX. Just like Hollow Man, Paul Verhoeven’s 2000 slasher flick starring Kevin Bacon as a scientist who goes homicidally mad after becoming invisible.
That film cost US$100 million (S$140 mil); Leigh Whannell’s movie, being a Blumhouse production, has a micro-budget of US$7 million. So there’s only so much Whannell can splurge on visual trickery.
Then again, he didn’t need to — he has the amazing Elisabeth Moss as his secret weapon . In this bodacious hybrid of a straight-up sci-fi horror and domestic-violence thriller, Moss gives a powerful performance as Cecilia, a woman trapped in a toxic relationship with a brilliant tech mogul (The Haunting of Hill House’s Oliver Jackson-Cohen).
Her ex, some kind of comic-book supervillain in the making (think a demented Tony Stark), concocts an elaborate plan to drive her bonkers with a wearable cloaking device. He drugs her, sabotages her job interview, hurt people she cares. She calls the cops but they don’t believe her story (typical).
Whannell doesn’t dwell too much on the stealthy tech, focusing instead on Cecilia’s increasingly fractured psyche as she wages war on an unseen stalker. The scares are effectively conjured, with some scenes looking as if Cecilia is being attacked by a poltergeist.
But Whannell’s greatest achievement is creating high-tension moments without any special effects: All he did is point a camera at an empty corner of a room and you get this eerie feeling that something is staring back at you. Very Minimalist; very menacing (****)