The story begins with Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss), the main actress and movie lead, carefully escaping from a mansion on the shore, and from the man lying next to her. She makes her way through a lab, just to point out to the audience that the owner must be a genius, and foreshadowing what is to eventually come when we get to see, or not see, where the suit is kept. Managing to disable the various security cameras and alarms, Cecilia almost escapes from the house with the noisiest floors, with corridors and rooms that make a perfect echo chamber, creating enough sound to wake the dead, but manages to set off the car alarm before running into the adjacent forest.(“Turn off that f**king alarm!”)
After escaping into the night, she is picked up on the road and taken to safety, but not before her savior spends all night not understanding the urgency of the situation and just sits there dumbfounded as she is told to hurry and drive, and still sits there even as the car is attacked by Cecilia’s pursuer, her abusive partner. I didn’t know what she was waiting for, but when she eventually realized what was happening, minutes after everyone else, she hit the gas and took off. Cecilia spends the next three weeks in hiding, staying with her childhood friend James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid), living inside a prison of anxiety and fear as she thinks her ex will come for her. However, when she gets the news that he committed suicide, she believes that she is finally free and decides to move on with her life.(Another John Cena movie?)
At first, I didn’t know what was wrong between them. It was never explained why she decided to leave, especially in the way that she did, or what happened between them before the movie started until a little later. I actually assumed it was something to do with his wealth and technological research. Aidan Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) was a brilliant scientist, specializing in optics, and was considered a world leader in his field. It looked to me like she was there in order to spy on him, perhaps for a multimedia company or a rival tech mogul.
But it isn’t until after his “death” that Cecilia finally shares with James, and her sister Emma (Harriet Dyer), the details of her tumultuous relationship with the deceased. To put it bluntly he was abusive in almost every sense, gradually increasing in the ridiculousness of his demands as he stripped away her freedoms of what she wore, what she said, and what she thought. If she looked the wrong way or said something that he didn’t like she would be met with severe consequences, physical ones. So, it’s already been decided that this man, that we have only seen on screen for less than a minute or so, is a first-class asshole of the highest order, and we still wouldn’t see much of Aidan. Her past experiences still hung over her due to what she has had to endure for so long, but despite trying to move on with her life she never fully accepted what happened.(Is this what whitewashing is?)
Her paranoia sets back in when strange signs begin to surface over the next few days, signs that only she would come across. They start out as the typical hauntings would from an unseen assailant with the moving things around, making some noises, leaving behind arse prints on seats, and all that jazz. For someone that was likely to have been the subject of trauma on more than one occasion it isn’t all too long before Cecilia begins to question Aidan’s suicide, and starts to make seemingly crazy accusations that he somehow faked his death and is now picking up where he left off in mentally torturing her. Of course, everyone finds this hard to believe, but Cecilia somehow concludes that Aidan may have already found the means to become invisible, and is using that discovery to drive her mad and make her feel isolated and scared. We never really see Aidan’s face at the beginning, and it was always at an angle that didn’t give us a full view. I recognized the actor anyway for his role in the amazing Haunting of Hill House series on Netflix, but once he was out of the picture it was difficult to visualize his face as the one that is watching Cecilia during her most vulnerable moments.
Now, unlike a typical haunting which is usually comprised of a collaboration of unexplainable, supernatural shenanigans, followed by a lot of jump scares, the invisible man decides to be different. He uses other means as well, modern means, and tries to separate Cecilia from any kind of support from friends or family, continuing in the abuse of controlling her life, even beyond the grave. The invisible man is always there, always watching, and will not stop. I say “the invisible man”, and not Aidan, because we do not know if it actually is him at this stage. As far as we were aware at the time, he had died, left behind a will, a suicide note, and his ashes were sitting in his brother’s office. Ooooooooooh, the plot thickens. If it isn’t Aidan, then who could it be? We only ever see a few characters, and the only ones of note are people that know Cecilia, so it may have been someone else.(The only hero that can take down this villain)
After pretty much getting Cecilia on her own, breaking her spirit and getting in her head, driving everyone else away, making them believe that she had lost the plot, she decided to fight back. She did not let herself go down, not without a fight, and remained adamant that what she had been going through was the result of Aidan keeping a promise he made in their past, that she would never escape him, and that if she did, he would find her and she would not see her coming. She knew he was an optics genius, and firmly believed that he was successful in making himself completely undetectable by the naked eye.
To be fair, if someone you knew was screaming at a corner of a room, and telling it to fuck off, you would want to immediately leave that room, or maybe put that person into some sort of mental health care ward. Elisabeth Moss was the golden goose that laid the egg and I would hope to see her involved with other projects in future. From the beginning to the end she played her part very well as the abused ex-partner to an absolute wankhead (is that even a swear word?), displaying very convincing behaviors, and expressing the kind of emotional turmoil I believe would come from someone that had gone through what she did.
I tried looking at the invisible man, and the concept of him keeping Cecilia locked up in the mental prison he built for her, even after she thought she escaped the other one, that this invisible prick was just an extension of her fears and anxiety come to collect the last of her willpower.
She turned it around, and when she decided to fight back, I believed it. Elisabeth brought Cecilia to life, and would make a great example for those that may have suffered at the heels of their partners, boyfriends/girlfriends, or anyone that has bullied them into submission. The way Elisabeth portrays Cecilia’s growth from a scared and broken woman to someone that won’t let the bad guy win is a powerful message. I still have to give the other cast credit, especially those Aldis and Storm. They brought a great positive energy to Cecilia’s world, and were a comfortable sight on-screen, delivering their relationships with Cecilia with a great chemistry.(The Dark Brotherhood haven’t moved to emails yet)
Overall, it was an enjoyable movie, and I would like to watch it again. There were a lot of scenes of quietness, tension and the suspense of knowing something about to happen when the only sound is coming from my hand digging in the bottom of my bag of popcorn, forever searching for one with a bit of feckin’ flavour to it. Although the “scarier” moments were predictable and could be seen a mile away, it still didn’t detract much the quality of the scenes.
Speaking about the scenes, I felt like there were scenes that didn’t add anything of note, to either the plot or character development, some felt just a tad too long and extended the runtime of the movie beyond what it needed to be. Considering all that happened it could have been wrapped up a little sooner, or the extra time could have been used to include more build-ups to her realization as to what is happening. I mean, I know she was threatened by Aidan about not being able to see him coming, but most people wouldn’t take it literally. Creating a suit that can make you invisible is not something that you would accuse someone of, especially without already knowing that it had been done.
As far as I could tell, Cecilia wasn’t aware of this project, or if Aidan was already in possession of an item like that. Her thought process must have just been “he’s smart, dangerous, an optics tech expert and threatened that I wouldn’t see him…yeah he made an invisibility suit and is now following me everywhere and moving my dishes when I’m not looking”. I suppose she was looking for some rationale to what was happening, but it’s still a stretch to come to that conclusion. Aside from the pacing, I still feel like I didn’t have enough on the villain, and would have liked some scenes to showcase how he met Cecilia, how their relationship transformed and where it began to go wrong. I wouldn’t ask to watch any clips of violence between them, but to be given a look into their past together would have been a more solid means to define their past relationship, and give more screen time to Oliver.(I’m sorry..no one suspect this guy of being a psycho?)
This won’t break records, or be the movie of the year. There was no new and bold direction taken, and it is not the first thriller that involved an invisible man committing horrible crimes (although I can’t remember the name of another movie that is very similar), and with scenes that were either too long for the wrong reasons, or just not necessary, it messed with the fluidity of story. The acting was superb, especially from Elisabeth, she really made me believe her representation as an abuse victim to be almost genuine, to the point I looked her up to see if she had actually gone through it in real life (thankfully, she doesn’t appear to have).
There were plenty of well thought out moments in which to scare Cecilia, and clever decisions made in how to structure her decaying sanity in the eyes of those around her. The movie could have spent more time showing moments of unease, with additional or extended tense events to give us more of a scare, and despite the unease of witnessing strange things done by something that can’t be seen there were never that scary. Now, they were creepy as shit, and if they were to have happened to anyone of us in real life then we would never have any issues emptying our bowels ever again, but seeing everything unfold as an observer and not a participant, makes it harder for me to imagine the feelings someone has in those situations. It was like I was ready to step over the edge, having that feeling in the bottom of my gut, but it never finishes. Even after saying all of that I would recommend this movie to anyone that is even remotely interested. You don’t have to be a horror/thriller fan to get a kick out of it, but you might end up enjoying it anyway. All in all, it was a pretty good movie.