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'The Invisible Man': More Than What Meets the Eye
By Michael S. Goldberger, iBerkshires Film Critic
02:30PM / Thursday, March 05, 2020
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I inevitably ponder the same confounding question every time I review a horror move: Why would someone want to subject themselves to two hours of blood pressure-raising, heart-pounding, stomach-curdling and mind-distressing occurrences? 
 
I then go on to explain that there are plenty of real, everyday circumstances from which to draw fear without paying handsomely for it at the Bijou. Things like the mortgage, a suspiciously weird neighbor who's doing gosh knows what, a bunch of looney, mendacious ne'er-do-wells helping themselves to the national treasure down in Foggy Bottom, and nowadays especially, the guy working in the diner who, after visiting the men's room, doesn't wash his hands before replenishing the salad bar.
 
This is all scary stuff and, were I not either a film critic or personally cajoled by Kim Basinger to see the very well executed scare tactics employed in director Leigh Whannell's "The Invisible Man," I'd surely avoid it like the, uh, well, the plague. Be assured insofar as my bewilderment is concerned that when I quiz friends and/or relatives who readily subscribe to being frightened out of their minds in the dark of the theater on a regular basis, I am simply met with an apprehensive stare, as if I'm threatening a well-guarded secret. It's obvious I won't be let in on it, and it occurs to me that late at night, when we simpletons who jovially feed on farce and comedy are peacefully asleep, the horror fanatics gather in coven-like congregation to brew up further ways to perplex me. So, I ask you … does such paranoia need to be compounded by the viewing of panic-inducing celluloid?
 
Yet, having braved this compelling exception to the rule about an architect who believes her fiendish, scientific genius of an ex-boyfriend has faked his death and is now terrorizing her, "Invisible Man"-style, I now preen like a dog showing his master the mouse he has caught. Yes, I have delved into the daunting and bedeviling catacombs of the horror phylum. And as such, if there's a Heaven and I somehow finagle my way beyond its pearly gates, I imagine Lewis and Clark will remark in unison, "Hey, there's that guy who dared see a horror movie."
 
But enough about me. Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia is the essence of a frantic, feverish portrait of just about everything you don't want to happen to you when things go sour with your significant other. While I skeptically scoff inside when a divorced fellow gives me the rap that, "Since we broke up, we're the very best of friends," the converse as confronts our tormented protagonist shouldn't be wished on your proverbial worst enemy. OK, the less forgiving among us might want to make an exception for disingenuous politicians.
 
The hidden blessing, however, of my journey into the fearsome world where things go bump in the night, is that any perception of gratuitous thrills is exonerated by the important social statements the film makes. It should be noted that Whannell's version of "The Invisible Man," while bearing some structural similarities to the 1933 film director James Whale adapted from H.G. Wells' 1897 sci-fi novel, strikes some poignantly contemporary chords. 
 
Emulating the ugly sentiments so profoundly detailed in the eponymously named "Gaslight" (1944), Cecilia's plight brings into high relief the despicable sort of behavior the #MeToo Movement has been exposing. Therefore, assaulters and abusers might not want to bring the object of their pathological dysfunction to a showing of "The Invisible Man," who might then attain the insight to see right through them.
 
However, horror aficionados needn't worry that their anticipated delivery of fear and loathing will be compromised. Stopping an astutely judicious soupcon short of overacting, Moss' superb depiction of the battered woman complements the panoply of proficiently linked genre clichés with synergistic aplomb. In one fell swoop, her plight, which causes all manner of bedlam and derring-do courtesy of some cutting-edge f/x, cleverly scares the bejesus out of us while exposing the monster that lives in our midst. While your adult poise may temper your outward reaction, your inner, totally abashed sense of deportment shrieks with the blackboard-scratching clarion of a poorly raised tot having his way in a restaurant.
 
In short, while the very latest in special effects to render the title character savagely sphinxlike was expected, I was surprised both by the intelligently progressive subtext and by my subsequent interest in a least favorite film genre that normally couldn't deter me from a plot-dismissing, semi-elective trip to the facilities. I wanted to see what happens.
 
All of which takes me to the notes I scribbled for my closing paragraph: "a bit too long ... clearance by shrink and cardiologist may be necessary … generally don't think movies of this sort will be any good, but in the case of 'The Invisible Man,' seeing is believing."
 
"The Invisible Man," rated R, is a Universal Pictures release directed by Leigh Whannel and stars Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Aldis Hodge. Running time: 124 minutes
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