Opening 27 Feb 2020
Stealthily, steadily the plucky Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) extracts herself from Adrian’s (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) house, and life, one terrifying night and with sister Emily’s (Harriet Dyer) help. Two weeks later, when Emily comes to see her cloistered at childhood friend Jim’s (Aldis Hodge) house, Cee’s anger melts into stunned speechlessness. Adrian’s dead? Not until seeing a headline does Cee start believing. More surprisingly, is being summoned to Tom’s (Michael Dorman) office. With formidable Em at her side, Tom informs that as executor of his brother’s will, the extraordinary, wealthy scientist left Cecilia a hefty inheritance, albeit with stipulations. Celebrating later with Jim and teenage daughter Sydney (Storm Reid), Cee’s generosity astonishes them. So, when a quiver of fear evocatively skulks into her psyche, Cecilia’s sixth sense—attuned to Adrian’s antics—flashes as meticulous, minute inconsistencies occur. “Don’t let him win, by bringing him back to life,” is much easier said, than executed… Surprise.
Writer-director Leigh Whannell’s screenplay, set in present-time together with cleverly added trace (visual) hints, does justice to H.G. Wells’ 1897 same-titled novel whose many incarnations began with a 1933 film, and includes numerous television series. Elisabeth Moss’ performance immeasurably adds to its effectiveness with hefty support form Hodge, Reid and Dryer, et al. Stefan Duscio’s cinematography is unfalteringly one heartbeat ahead at any given time, whereas Benjamin Wallfisch’s music is too loud and overused; natural sound design, e.g., a floor/door creaking, the brush of cloth against something, etc. could have effectively elevated discarnate fears. Strangely, Andy Canny’s languid editing largely undermines the clues effectiveness.
By its end, Der Unsichtbare makes two things clear: Shrewd and smart, Cecilia is resourceful, just as Adrian is a master manipulator. “Be good to yourself, we’ll be watching.” (Marinell Haegelin)