How Scary Is The Invisible Man, the New Elisabeth Moss Movie?

Our highly scientific Scaredy Scale helps you determine whether new movies are too scary for you.

Elisabeth Moss peers around an open doorway in The Invisible Man. Over the art, the logo of the Scaredy Scale, with a jittery meter.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Universal Pictures.

For die-hards, no horror movie can be too scary. But for you, a wimp, the wrong one can leave you miserable. Maybe you’ve even lost whole nights of sleep in a struggle to get certain images or ideas out of your head.

Never fear, scaredies, because Slate’s Scaredy Scale is here to help. We’ve put together a highly scientific and mostly spoiler-free system for rating new horror movies, comparing them to classics along a 10-point scale. And because not everyone is scared by the same things—some viewers can’t stand jump scares, while others are haunted by more psychological terrors or simply can’t stomach arterial spurts—it breaks down each movie’s scares across three criteria: suspense, spookiness, and gore. This time: The Invisible Man, the in-name-only remake of the Universal monster classic, based on H.G. Wells’ science fiction novel, about a woman (Elisabeth Moss) who escapes her sociopathic tech-founder boyfriend in the dead of night only to have him start to stalk her as the titular unseen menace.

A chart titled “Suspense: How much will you dread the next kill or jump scare?” shows that The Invisible Man ranks a 9 in suspense, roughly the same as The Shining. The scale ranges from The Joy of Painting (0) to Alien (10).
Chart by Slate. The Invisible Man photo by Universal Pictures.

Writer-director Leigh Whannell learned well from his longtime collaborator James Wan, who staged some of cinema’s finest modern jump scares in movies like Insidious. The Invisible Man is downright excruciating for large portions of its runtime, as Whannell’s camera slowly cranes through rooms, down ladders, and into silly CGI clouds of human breath where we suspect (know!) that someone we can’t see is lurking. When that person finally does reveal himself, in one grueling set piece after another, the proceedings are no less cruel to the nerves.

A chart titled “Spookiness: How much will it haunt you after the movie is over?” shows that The Invisible Man ranks a 7 in spookiness, roughly the same as Psycho. The scale ranges from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (0) to The Exorcist (10).
Chart by Slate. The Invisible Man photo by Universal Pictures.

The Invisible Man is a fairly merciless movie about intimate partner abuse that processes those traumas through popcorn thrills. Moss’ distressing, very physical performance makes this more visceral than you might expect from the movie’s high-concept packaging. The ultimate zany revenge-thriller elements may soften that edge for some viewers.

Also, if you ever have that strange sense that someone’s watching you, this is a “nah” for you.

A chart titled “Gore: the Ick Factor” shows that The Invisible Man ranks a 7 in goriness, roughly the same as Jaws. The scale ranges from Singin’ in the Rain (0) to the Saw franchise (10).
Chart by Slate. The Invisible Man photo by Universal Pictures.

The movie is relatively restrained in this respect—it trades, after all, on the fear of what you can’t see—but several scenes are nevertheless punctuated by spurting throats, slit wrists, and the spatter that erupts from gunshots to kneecaps.

A chart titled “Overall: This is even more subjective, depending on what kinds of scares get you the most” shows that The Invisible Man ranks as a 7 overall, roughly the same as Alien. The scale ranges from Paddington (0) to the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (10).
Chart by Slate. The Invisible Man photo by Universal Pictures.

Who knew the most effective new horror movie of the year so far would be a little-anticipated remake of The Invisible Man? Whannell reinvents and weaponizes the story on multiple Scaredy-tipping levels. It’s an inspired and nasty movie about domestic abuse and its aftermath that is also perverse fun, a dynamic sure to raise some eyebrows—but for our purposes here, just know that it’s far from kid stuff.

Additional chart photos by PBS, Buena Vista Distribution Company, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Buena Vista Pictures, Paramount Pictures, New Line Cinema, Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, IFC Films, MGM, Lionsgate Films, Pixar, TWC-Dimension, and Sony Pictures.