(US/Australia - 2020)
Written and directed by Leigh Whannell. Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, Benedict Hardie, Nicholas Hope, Renee Lim, Nash Edgerton. (R, 124 mins)
With Universal finally--for now--throwing in the towel with their attempted Marvelization of the studio's classic monsters in the ill-conceived "Dark Universe" that they tried their damnedest to make a thing (have you met anyone who actually likes the Tom Cruise MUMMY?), THE INVISIBLE MAN serves as a stand-alone, modern-day re-imagining from writer/director Leigh Whannell. Best known for co-writing and starring in the first SAW and then the INSIDIOUS franchise, Whannell seems to be sticking with relatively smaller-scale genre fare while his former creative partner James Wan has helmed the CONJURING films and blockbusters like FURIOUS 7 and AQUAMAN. Whannell's 2018 sci-fi actioner UPGRADE was an entertaining, imaginative, low-cost B-movie that should've gotten a lot more attention than it did, but with the Blumhouse production THE INVISIBLE MAN--budgeted at less than $10 million, or pocket change by today's standards--he establishes himself as a serious horror craftsman, very conservatively doling out the kind of jump scares that INSIDIOUS helped make overly familiar and instead using the Invisible Man trope in service of an intense, harrowing chronicle of abuse and gaslighting. And it's all in the guise of a nail-biting, pulse-pounding fright flick that's also--somehow, given the potentially triggering subject matter--a cathartic crowd-pleaser at the same time.