To put it bluntly, this film was terrifying. Not only because of jump scares (which were genuinely scary), but because of palpable the fear is from the Cecilia’s point. It’s so easy to put yourself in her shoes and think, Oh. My. God. What would I do in that situation?
When the film starts, we’re instantly thrown into the story. No background of their relationship. It jumps right into it with a tense escape sequence that perfectly encapsulates the film you are about to watch. The longevity of the scene of her escaping and everything choreographed perfectly shows us how repressed and intimidated her abusive husband made her feel. From then on there is barely any let up, as there wouldn’t be if you were constantly on the look out for a completely invisible stalker.
The film also ends in the same way, although thinking it was going to seriously drag itself out, the film has one of the most climactic and satisfying moments that I certainly was not expecting. Late in and early out, which was an unexpected suprise.
The Performance We Could See
So much of this film relies on the performance of Elisabeth Moss, who thrives under the pressure of such a challenge. The antagonist being invisible, there are a lot of scenes of her being tormented and acting hysterical opposite no other actor, which could potentially be the film’s downfall (and which also takes a high degree of difficulty). She fully commits to the character and the extreme situations she finds herself in and this makes for a very engaging performance that even makes ridiculous situations believable. Her character is also surprisingly competent for the victim in a horror movie.
What Made it Different to Other Horrors/Thrillers
I was completely expecting this film to just be another cheesy Blumhouse horror movie. I mean common, a guy that makes himself invisible? Boy was I suprised to literally be on the edge of my seat. What made it so different was how it tapped into the fear that domestic abuse victims, and many people in toxic relationships face. Yes, the person hurting and controlling you is terrifying but it’s also the fear that you actually cannot get away and that no one will believe you.
The sound design and camerawork were almost creepy characters of their own. Normal safe scenes were transformed into fear of the unknown. At all times, something just fel creepy and off. In situations where the protagonist is trying to escape quietly, every little noise is amplified, making us fear for her and also making us jump. The way the camera will shift focus as though looking at someone else, despite there apparently being nobody there, really help to creep you out and put you in the same headspace as the protagonist, leaving you to wonder ‘Is someone there?’ you really experience the sense of dread Cecilia is going through.
The use of wide open spaces was something to be fearful of as well. This guy really could be anywhere. It was the unknown that made it so scary. The production design of the main house is very open plan and involves lots of doors, empty seats, and dark corners. You know he’s in here somewhere, but you don’t know where, and that’s what made this film so different.
Is It A Must See?
Overall this is a really effective thriller. It has some well-handled jump scares and plenty of creepy moments where you literally want to hold your breath. Maybe the odd situation doesn’t quite add up, but you definitely give this one a watch! And yes, that really is my score out of 10! Tempted to see it now?