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JOE's review of one of 2020's most-anticipated scary movies is here.
Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) wakes up in the middle of the night next to her genius boyfriend Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). She silently slips out of bed and begins to go through the checklist of things she needs to do and things to take, as she is obviously in the middle of escaping their cliffside mansion without waking him up.
The entire scene plays out wordlessly, basing almost entirely around Moss' panicked and fearful expression, and even without dialogue or explanation, we know that she is not safe in that house.
It is a masterclass in tension, and the most memorably scary opening scene to a movie since Drew Barrymore got that phone call at the start of Scream.
Writer and director Leigh Whannell (Saw, Insidious) successfully manages to update The Invisible Man - originally published in 1897! - by channeling the entire story through a lens of abuse, suicide, and survivor's guilt, as Cecilia is told that two weeks after she left Adrian, he killed himself, but he had left her millions of dollars in his will.
However, just as she is beginning to put her life back together, a series of inexplicable occurrences make Cecilia fear that Adrian may not be dead at all and is somehow gas-lighting her. Either that, or she is actually straight-up losing her mind.
Admittedly, these are some extremely heavy issues to throw at an audience that might just be out for a good 90-minute scream-fest on a Friday evening, but much like producer Jason Blum managed with Get Out and Us, the subtext never gets so much as to stop the movie from being entertaining.
There are some glorious surprises in store (which is good news, as the trailer was fairly spoiler-heavy), and they are sold thanks to a mix of Moss' stellar performance - practically acting alone for the majority of the run-time - and Whannell's clever scares. There is a lot of utilising silence and empty space, not terribly unlike Paranormal Activity in that regard, your eyes darting all over the screen to try to spot something moving.
While it isn't a perfect horror, with maybe one or two too many scenes of Moss trying to convince people that an invisible man is chasing her, and everyone reacting with the same look of "You a crazy lady", and there will be one or two plot-holes to pick over afterwards, but they are small issues compared to the bigger picture.
After going overboard with The Mummy and Dracula Untold, it was clever that Universal took their classic monsters in a different direction: smaller, darker, scarier. It is recipe for something much edgier and more originally entertaining.
The Invisible Man is released in Irish cinemas on Friday 28 February.
Clip via Universal Pictures Ireland
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