Cobweb - New Release Review
DIrector: Samuel Bodin
Starring: Lizzy Caplan, Antony Starr, Cleopatra Coleman, Woody Norman
Written by: Chris Thomas Devlin
Produced by: Andrew Childs, Josh Fagan, Evan Goldberg, Roy Lee, Seth Rogen, James Weaver
Cinematography by: Philip Lozano
Original Score by: Drum & Lace
An eight-year-old boy tries to investigate the mysterious knocking sounds that are coming from inside the walls of his house, unveiling a dark secret that his sinister parents have kept hidden from him.
The past 12 months has been a stellar year for the creepy thing in the corner type movie. 'Barbarian', 'Smile' and 'The Boogeyman' to name a few, have all used these shadow bound ghouls to great effect, delivering scares to big box office success. When the trailer for 'Cobweb' dropped, it looked like we were getting a perfectly themed Halloween movie, with some great imagery and featuring some fan favourite actors like Antony Starr and Lizzy Caplan. The only problem? It has a summer release date in the US, going up against the juggernaut that was Barbieheimer. Not that the release date would affect the quality of the film, but it felt like the studio was just dumping the film in the middle of the summer. Luckily for international fans, 'Cobweb' got a more suitable release of September 1st. So, was the film worth the wait? Absolutely.
This is director Samuel Bodin’s debut film after making the terrifying series 'Marianne'. Bodin shows that he has a fantastic vision when it comes to horror, especially dealing with supernatural entities. He creates a narrative here that often feels dreamlike, not in a surreal fashion, but in a way that everything is just a tad separated from reality. When you’re watching the film, the character motivations often feel strange or left field, but once you see the whole picture you understand that there’s fully justified reasons for all this. Not because of some mind-blowing plot twist, but because this is the world the director wants to present to us. Something not quite solid, not entirely real yet never outlandish to the point of disbelief.
Woody Norman stars as Peter, the young boy at the centre of the film and he does a fantastic job. I’ve loved Norman ever since I seen him in 'C’mon C’mon' and I'm glad he’s getting leading roles. Kid actors can always make or break a film, but thankfully Norman brings a reality to the character that is believable and never annoying. Lizzy Caplan and Antony Starr are also great as the bizarre parents of Peter. At times, they reminded me of the parents from films like 'Society' and 'Parents' (1989), Caplan and Starr both bring a believable oddness to the characters, having to think from scene to scene if they actually love their son or want to kill him.
Starr especially beings an intensity to the role that some might not be used to if you’ve never seen him before. Playing Homelander in 'The Boys' requires a certain amount of madness behind the eyes; a suburban dad looks insane with those same eyes, but I enjoy Starr enough to let it pass.
The main monster of 'Cobweb' is impressive at times but ultimately a bit disappointing. It takes influence from 2000’s 'J-Horror', which is interesting but doesn’t use it to its full effect. The scares are fun and the third act has some excellent gore, but by the end, I was comparing the monster to Hugo Simpson from 'The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror' episode. I can’t get into my true thoughts of the villain without going into spoilers, but just know by the end credits, if you’ve been paying attention to the world of the film, the villain is quite clever.
Overall the film is pretty great, delivering a perfect Halloween atmosphere on film I haven’t felt since 'Trick 'R Treat'. The film honestly feels like a story you’re told about the creepy boarded up house down the street. Not entirely believable yet scary enough to make you check under your bed before you go to sleep at night.
- Adam Neeson
'Cobweb' is released in UK/Ireland Cinemas on September 1st