To its credit, "The Invisible" does try something new with the PG-13 horror sub-genre. Then again, "The Invisible" IS based on a 2002 Dutch film, which itself was based on a novel by Mats Wahl, so perhaps it's not so much "something new" as it is "something beyond haunted apartments and shadowy hallways." And since it's a pretty safe bet that the main demographic for David S. Goyer's Americanized remake has never seen the Dutch film nor read the source material, it's new enough for most of us.
Having seen (and quite enjoyed) the original film on which this flick is based, I can safely opine that Goyer and company have retained the cleverness of the original film, while softening its edges just a bit for the mid-America audiences. Still, it's a novel idea, slickly delivered and compellingly told -- except for the last few minutes, which just sorta run around in circles and slowly run out of steam. On the upside, it's got a few unexpectedly strong acting performances and it's directed with an appreciable sense of mood, slickness and style. And while the final destination is all-but-entirely predictable, Goyer does what he can to generate a few surprises and unexpected character moments.
Justin Chatwin plays Nick Powell, a good-hearted but aimless high school senior who wants to head overseas to study writing, but is hounded by his domineering mother. Though Nick sells homework out of his locker, he's basically a pretty nice guy. Annie Newton, on the other hand, is not a nice girl. She actually runs a pretty aggressive black market within a fairly posh high school, and it's never really explained how a 90-pound waif could become a schoolyard crime-lord kingpin, but as played by Margarita Levieva, Annie makes for a pretty fascinating character all the same.
Long story short: Annie, in the course of kicking Nick's ass, accidentally kills our hero and forces her greasy cronies to help her hide the corpse. Whoops, near-corpse, we should say, because while he's in some really sorry shape, Nick's not exactly dead yet -- which means his spirit is now allowed to roam the town until either A) his bruised body is located and resuscitated, or B) said body expires, in which case Nick will simply, y'know, die, spirit and all. Far from the freshest concept in the universe, but clever enough to warrant a 90-minute expenditure, provided you're a fan of flicks like "Ghost," but you're younger than 45.
Save for a few dry spots here and there, Goyer keeps the plot turns coming at a rapid pace, and he's aided by a few surprisingly strong performances. Chatwin, for example, adds a few extra dimensions to a potentially one-note character. Newcomer Margarita Levieva feels a bit typecast, but also delivers a fine performance. Background support by Marcia Gay Harden (as mom), Callum Keith Rennie (as the cop) and Chris Marquette (as the miserable best friend) is both welcome and helpful.
Before it spirals a bit tediously into his final moments, "The Invisible" does a fine job of pushing the viewer forward, which helps to maintain some air of interest and intensity -- but it also serves to skip right over the plot-holes, too. The textbook definition of a "middle of the road" flick, "The Invisible" is neither as tight as it should have been nor as stupid as it could have been. Geared mainly for the teenage audience, or those who simply must devour every ghost movie ever made, "The Invisible" is a mixed bag, to be sure, but it still managed to hold my interest for 90% of its running time -- and this is coming from a guy who saw the original movie and therefore knew the ending.