We went to see THE INVISIBLE MAN, which already sounds like it should be a disappointing experience. But we actually liked it. Fiona had been very hyped to see it, I wasn’t expecting too much, necessarily. End result, I was fairly impressed and Fiona was mildly disappointed, but still liked it.

What we agreed was odd is that although INSIDIOUS and its spawn are silly, the best of them are scarier than this. I recall feeling a really acute anxiety at that one. But what’s good here is that it’s slow and creepy, it doesn’t over-rely on jump scares, and it makes really good use of space. Lots of empty frames. Lots of coats on hooks that look like lurking figures. It has that hypnogogic nightmare feel.

And the trope of making it an abusive relationship drama works well, I think. It never felt exploitative or male-gazey, which would be the worst take possible. So it’s not HOLLOW MAN. We’re solidly on the side of lead Elizabeth Moss as she tries to flee her ex, only to find him, maybe, everywhere.

Oddly enough it refuses to play the game of “Is she crazy?” though it makes all the other characters pose that question and leap to the wrong conclusion. Clearly a deliberate choice. I wonder if there was mileage there, if it could have led us along with Moss (Cecilia — her friends call her C. Get it? See?) and then made US doubtful, made her doubt her own sanity, and then turned things around for the climax. Because, even though the movie puts her through a lot, it never does the worst thing, which would be to successfully gaslight her.

Even without gaslight, which is the primary source of illumination on the contemporary political scene, it feels quite of-the-moment with its “narcissistic sociopath” villain. And, though the INSIDIOUS series was always terribly conservative and Christian, this one is much, much more progressive. I think director Leigh Whannell, who wrote several James Wan movies, has a subtler sensibility, and I’m curious to see what he does next.

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