Writer-director Leigh Whannell talks about his "really modern, really grounded" take on the classic Universal monster

By Clark Collis
November 06, 2019 at 12:00 PM EST

In The Invisible Man (out Feb. 28), Elisabeth Moss plays Cecilia Kass, who is trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, portrayed by Oliver Jackson-Cohen from The Haunting of Hill House. Cecilia escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister (Harriet Dyer), their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge), and his teenage daughter (Storm Reid). But when Cecilia’s abusive ex dies by suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of eerie coincidences turn lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

This latest, and very different-sounding, version of the classic Universal monster tale is written and directed by Leigh Whannell.

“The image of the Invisible Man in the floating trench coat and the floating sunglasses is one that is clearly etched into the public consciousness,” says the filmmaker who wrote the original Saw and wrote and directed last year’s Upgrade. “I wanted to kind of get away from that and make something that was really modern, really grounded, or as grounded as you can be when you’re dealing with a film called The Invisible Man. Just something that was really tense and scary in a way The Invisible Man hasn’t been before. There are some great actors in the film, Aldis Hodge and Storm Reid from A Wrinkle in Time, these are the supporting cast, and they’re such great performers. Having said that, the script is really a one-woman show. Elisabeth Moss is the centerpiece of the film, and she’s in pretty much every scene. I feel like, if you’re going to hang an entire film on someone’s shoulders, you need an actor as good as Lizzie.”

Does Whannell see the film as a one-off or the start of a franchise?

“I don’t know,” he says. “I haven’t put any thought into a sequel. I’m a pretty superstitious filmmaker. I don’t want to jinx anything. I’ve been involved with movies that have had a lot of sequels, like the original Saw film obviously spawned a whole franchise, as did Insidious. But I can tell you with total honesty that in the case of both of those films, I never thought about a sequel. I would never want to jinx the release of a movie by thinking about what comes next.

The Invisible Man is produced by Jason Blum and Kylie du Fresne.

See first look images of Elisabeth Moss in The Invisible Man, below.

Universal Pictures
Mark Rogers/Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

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