NEW YORK • When it was released in theatres less than a month ago, The Invisible Man looked like a breakout hit with a topical twist.
This modern-day adaptation of the H.G. Wells science-fiction novel tells the story of a Bay Area woman, played by Elisabeth Moss, whose abusive ex-boyfriend (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) has apparently committed suicide and left her a large sum of money. But when she tries to move on, she is unable to convince others that her unseen ex might still be stalking her.
Moss, the Emmy Award-winning star of The Handmaid's Tale (2017 to present), was widely praised for her performance in The Invisible Man (written and directed by Leigh Whannell of Saw and Insidious fame), and the film had sold more than US$122 million (S$174 million) in tickets worldwide before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered most theatres.
Now, The Invisible Man is one of a few new movies that Universal Pictures has released through on-demand services, in a break from long-standing industry traditions.
In a recent telephone interview, Moss said she supported this experiment and was hopeful it would help The Invisible Man reach more viewers. "This is all new territory for everyone. It's an inevitable move. I also think that it's a brave move."
She added: "If we can provide a couple hours of escape for people who are at home, and they can get a chance to forget about things for a second, that's great."
She spoke about the themes of The Invisible Man, its insights into the nature of abuse and how horror movies can still offer relief in anxious times. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.
Growing up, were horror movies part of your cultural diet?
I've always been a fan of horror films. Ever since I was 11 or 12, I would get together with my girlfriends from ballet school and we'd have sleepovers and watch scary movies. That was our subversive act.
How were you approached about The Invisible Man?
I was doing Season 3 of (The Handmaid's Tale) and I had done Us (2019), and as soon as I read this script, I understood why this was definitely up my alley. It was this convergence of a genre-film reboot and an emotional character piece.
This is the Jordan Peele way of approaching the genre. You're taking something that is, on the surface, entertaining and a popcorn movie, but at the same time, there is a deeper message to it.
Do you think that the feminist perspective has been absent from horror films?
There are films that have had women at the centre, especially recently with Bird Box (2018) and A Quiet Place (2018).
It also harkens back to the 1970s and 1980s, when you had The Shining (1980) and The Exorcist (1973). These movies were about more than what was on the surface.
It was Leigh Whannell's idea to approach The Invisible Man this way, to tell it from the perspective of the victim and make it an analogy for women not being believed, women not being heard – women being told they're crazy or emotional when they believed something was happening to them. The parallel is so incredibly obvious and relevant.
How do you approach the scenes where you are acting opposite no one, but you have to believe another person is there?
So much of my job is about imagination – creating something that is not there or erasing things that are there. So it's not as big of a leap as you would think.
Behind the scenes of that big fight sequence I did and quite a few of the moments where I had to make physical contact with the Invisible Man, I was doing it with either Ollie (Jackson-Cohen) or a stunt double.
It would have been impossible to do that fight without an actual physical person there.
That said, the fight when Aldis (Hodge, her co-star) gets beat up by the Invisible Man in the hallway, he did that by himself. It's one of the greatest physical acting accomplishments I've ever seen in my life. He's also superfit. I can't do that.
When you have spent the time immersing yourself in the themes of this film, do you emerge from the project a different person?
Because of the roles I've played, I've always had an extreme awareness of the patriarchy and of women put in abusive situations or who experience sexual servitude.
Mental and emotional abuse is a much harder thing to quantify. It's much more difficult to be believed and much harder to receive empathy.
We tend to go – she's not happy, she's being abused, why doesn't she just get out? Leigh and I had many conversations about wanting to show that a woman who experiences abuse isn't weak, isn't stupid.
There are strong and intelligent women out there who wind up in positions they find very difficult to get out of and it's not their fault.
How do you feel about the movie getting such a rapid on-demand release?
I was quite honestly hoping they would make it available to people at home sooner than was originally planned. It's an unusual move.
But at the same time, we live in an unusual moment. Are movies going to be this way forever? I have no idea. That's up to much smarter heads than mine. But this week, I think it's a Read More – Source