There is always a lingering feeling that a movie, particularly one that is genre based, released at a poor time (like against a juggernaut such as Barbenheimer) or just not in the Halloween season, has a clear reason for the timing choice. This tends to make audiences seek it out to see why it was buried, usually hoping for a disaster, or hoping to see a masterpiece that is just poorly timed and released. Thankfully though, for Samuel Bodin’s newest film Cobweb, it is just a case of the latter. With the movie finding life on digital release and, hopefully, finding more vigor with its physical release in time for spooky season (end of September, its close enough), audiences will surely kick themselves for skipping this tense thrilling horror flick in theatres and force themselves to live with the eerie feelings inside their own home now.
The movie focuses on Peter (Woody Norman), who does not have the easiest time fitting in at school. His parents, Carol and Mark (Lizzy Caplan and Antony Starr), have sheltered him so much that he’s become socially awkward and a little bit of a hermit. Nothing immediately out of the ordinary, just seemingly overbearing and protective parents. One night, Peter hears a knocking inside his bedroom wall with a mysterious voice calling his name. The mysterious entity identifies as Sarah, claims to be Peter’s sister and that their parents did something truly awful to her, and that if he doesn’t help her soon, something horrible is going to happen to him, too.
While he is initially spooked by the voice and consistent knocking in his wall, he tells his parents who brush it off as childhood nightmares and fears. When it continues to eat away at him, he lets his teacher, Miss Devine (Cleopatra Coleman), know and she decides to take matters into her own hands. Suspicions continue to grow, Peter finally stands up for himself and takes out his school bully, which leads to a suspension for him and his greatest fear actualized, being trapped in that house and room for longer than he wants to be.
What makes Cobweb stand out from the abundance of horror movies that exist and are going to come out, is the world that Samuel Bodin (Batman: Ashes to Ashes) makes with his direction and that Chris Thomas Devlin (Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)) creates with his script. This review is not going to outright or blatantly spoil anything about the movie as that would be the greatest disservice. There are lots of twists and unexpected moments that will give the audience a good scare and create a tense world for audiences to find themselves engaged in. There are so many horror movies which follow a formula and have a rule to the madness, but Cobweb tries to stand its own ground and create its own terrors and fears which can linger within its audience.
All of the aforementioned effort would be absolutely wasted if the cast could not deliver on the powerful script and creative direction. Thankfully though, Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield) and Antony Starr (The Boys) know exactly what they’re doing and the world they’re trying to create and bring such precision and perfection to their performances. Their carefully delicate balancing act of navigating the world pre- and post-reveal is a double-sided coin which brings different elements of their performances and newer evils to be explored in this dark and twisted world. However, since they are not the titular stars, per say, and are more the masters of chaos, it does fall onto Woody Norman (C’Mon C’Mon) to create pure terror for the audience, making us believe that the voices and sounds he hear are in fact real, even if there is a lingering doubt. Thankfully, Woody manages to encapsulate the sheer terror that a young child is bound to have being put in this situation of terrors and horrors, and manages to further build upon the creepy and terrifying the world the audience has found themselves in.
Overall, Cobweb is a terrifically horrifying and satisfying film that will scratch the itch the horror fans find themselves having come October and all year round. The fact that it came out quietly and was slowly swept under the rug due to unheard-of powerhouses dominating screens, Cobweb unfortunately took more in its namesake than deserved. It will be the pleasant surprise of the year and one that will be revisited in an annual Halloween watch for years to come, so dust off your shelf and make room for this home release, or digitally dust off your library and add this excellent horror film to your more accessible library.
Cobweb Special Features:
- Becoming “The Girl”
- Through the Eyes of a Child
- A Primal Fear
Available on digital August 11th, 2023.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD September 12th, 2023.
For more information, head to the official Lionsgate Cobweb webpage.
Final Score: 4 out of 5.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.