★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Intensity: 🩸🩸🩸 out of 🩸🩸🩸🩸🩸
Directed by Samuel Bodin
Plain and simple, I had a lot of fun watching Halloween-set Cobweb — enough fun that I am considering it for a place on my top 10 list of this year’s best horror films. Sure, the movie has some issues — not the least of which is the backstory behind its main antagonist — but director Samuel Bodin sets out to entertain, and does so to a great degree.
Young Peter (Woody Norman) is bullied at school and has some very weird parents at home. Cheap Trick famously lets us know in their song “Surrender,” that “Mommy’s alright, daddy’s alright/They just seem a little weird”; Peter’s mom Carol (Lizzy Caplan) and dad Mark (Anthony Starr) are more than a little weird, and definitely not alright.
When Peter begins to hear noises and voices behind his bedroom wall, his parents, who already are sending up red flags because of their odd mannerisms, insist that either everything is in his head, or the noises may be caused by rats. This being a horror movie, seasoned fear-fare fans can wisely guess that those reassurances are not correct. The parents also rebuff the efforts of Peter’s new long-term substitute teacher Miss Devine (Cleopatra Coleman), who seems to be the only adult interested in the boy’s welfare.
Speaking of Cheap Trick songs, the band’s songs “Voices” proclaims “You didn’t know what you were looking for/’Til you heard the voices in your ear.” That applies to Peter here, who finds a new attitude toward those who are causing him grief thanks to whatever is behind his wall, and this empowerment leads to deadly trouble for many of those who know the young boy.
Bodin, working from a screenplay by Chris Thomas Devlin, combines familiar horror elements, from Japanese “long-haired ghost” horror to classic haunted house spookfests to creature feature shockers, and infuses them with a good deal of weirdness and mystery. He sets viewers up with tropes of the genre and then plays with them so that it is difficult to know what to expect next, and sometimes to surmise what is even happening at a given moment.
Boasting a playful, suspenseful screenplay, eerie set design, solid special effects, engaging performances, and assured direction, Cobweb is a blast. Go in as cold as possible and you should come out feeling highly satisfied.
Review by Joseph Perry
Lionsgate released the horror/thriller COBWEB exclusively in theaters on July 21, 2023.