Leigh Whannell’s remake of the 1933 classic is probably the most effective and well-acted horror movie since 2017’s “Get Out.” Like Jordan Peele’s breakthrough, Whannell’s updated version is knee-deep in socio-political commentary: This is not a things-go-bump-in-the-night horror movie, but instead a deeply layered and impeccably performed exploration of the horrors endured by women at the hands of abusive men, and how the after-effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can make it feel like the terror will never go away. Elisabeth Moss is Oscar-worthy as Cecilia, who escapes the clutches of her controlling Silicon Valley tech-bro boyfriend only to find herself hunted by an invisible menace that openly torments her. Moss is onscreen almost the entire movie, commanding the viewer’s attention thanks to a combination of bone-deep terror and steely determination that she communicates extraordinarily well, while Whannell spins his intricate web of a plot around her. Much like his previous movie (2018’s under-appreciated “Upgrade”), Whannell demonstrates a tight grasp of the conventions of genre cinema, often subverting expectations without cheating his audience a la M. Night Shyamalan, and the final result is a crowd-pleasing nail-biter that’s as riveting as it is unpredictable.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)