Cobweb review: a slight, but shockingly fun horror movie


Woody Norman presses his ear against a bedroom wall in Cobweb.

“Samuel Bodin’s Cobweb is a slight, however shockingly enjoyable summer season horror providing.”


  • An intense and unforgettable third act
  • Chris Thomas Devlin’s twisty, darkly humorous screenplay
  • Lizzy Caplan and Antony Starr’s admirably bizarre supporting performances


  • A thinly drawn forged of characters
  • Uneven mixture of horror and humor all through
  • A barely anticlimactic closing scene

Cobweb is a slow-burn horror film that spends most of its mercifully lean 88-minute runtime constructing stress earlier than exploding with one of the genuinely stunning, gleefully ugly third acts audiences will seemingly see this yr. It isn’t, by any means, a delicate movie. Its opening title card, which ominously units Cobweb’s first scene precisely one week earlier than Halloween, makes that clear, as does the pumpkin patch that sits within the yard of its central household’s home for no apparent cause.

Directed by Samuel Bodin, Cobweb is a movie that wholeheartedly embraces not solely its Halloween aesthetic, but in addition the sort of amped-up power that may make it an absolute blast to observe in a packed theater on October 31. On the one hand, that makes its late July restricted launch a bit baffling. However, the movie’s corny, messy tone and completely killer thirst for blood do give it the potential to turn into a brand new go-to sleepover horror film. That doesn’t imply Cobweb is a superb and even notably good movie, however it’s a entire lot of enjoyable.

A man and a woman look scared in Cobweb.

Cobweb‘s premise is deceptively easy: 8-year-old Peter (Woody Norman) finds himself saved awake each evening by the sound of knocking coming from the opposite aspect of his bed room wall. Sadly, each time he tells his overprotective mother and father, Carol (Lizzy Caplan) and Mark (The Boys‘ Antony Starr), concerning the noises, they insist that they’re nothing greater than figments of his personal creativeness. When the nightly knocks then flip into the sound of a bit of lady’s voice, Peter begins to suspect that not every thing he’s been informed by his mother and father is true.

Chris Thomas Devlin’s refreshingly spare screenplay doesn’t ever waste an excessive amount of time between its numerous plot developments. Within the movie’s first scene, Peter is shaken awake by the sound of his room’s unseen knocks, however it’s solely a bit of over 10 minutes later that these knocks have turn into an unlikely dialog between Peter and the little lady who seemingly lives inside his partitions. It equally isn’t lengthy earlier than Peter’s odd dwelling life has not solely caught the eye of his caring substitute instructor, Miss Devine (an underserved Cleopatra Coleman), but in addition put him at odds along with his personal mother and father.

Caplan and Starr, for his or her elements, lean all the way in which into their characters’ apparent shadiness. At no level all through Cobweb does Bodin attempt to persuade you that Carol and Mark aren’t hiding one thing. The enjoyable of Cobweb’s first two acts as a substitute lies in how a lot the movie each performs up their horrible parenting abilities and forces you to always rethink what secrets and techniques they might be attempting to maintain from their son. Caplan, specifically, turns in such a frazzled, overzealous efficiency as Peter’s mother that it’s unclear for some time whether or not she’s a villain, or merely a mom incapable of speaking the love she feels for her little one.

Woody Norman holds a flashlight in a dark crawlspace in Cobweb.

There’s, after all, a hazard to indulging in a slow-burn construction just like the one Cobweb employs. Asking audiences to remain invested in your story even when the scares aren’t coming all that rapidly or ferociously solely works for those who do finally reward them for his or her endurance. Many current horror motion pictures have did not reside as much as their finish of that cut price, however Cobweb isn’t considered one of them. For as drained, acquainted, and apparent as its first 40 minutes might often appear, the movie doesn’t maintain again as soon as its lit fuse has, in the end, lastly reached the tip of its line.

No bombs go off in Cobweb’s third act, however there would possibly as nicely be a couple of that do. The movie’s climactic embrace of its personal heightened, nightmarish logic inevitably calls to thoughts current horror classics like The Conjuring and Hereditary. Behind the digicam, Bodin by no means comes near matching the bravura visible types of these movies’ administrators, however he does pack quite a lot of memorable gags, kills, and genuinely chilling photos into Cobweb‘s brief runtime.

The director makes full use of the movie’s central home in methods which might be each ingenious and rewarding, and that’s very true of 1 second through which Peter’s hiding spot beneath his mattress is used in opposition to him. The scene in query is just not solely unnerving, but in addition darkly humorous, and it ends with a visible punch line that equally rides the road between horrifying and hilarious. Finally, the precision of Cobweb‘s third act solely additional differentiates it from the movie’s first two-thirds, which fail to strike such a constant tonal stability.

Woody Norman stands in a doorway behind Lizzy Caplan in Cobweb.

For some, Cobweb might show to be too tonally uneven, its characters too archetypically drawn, and its performances too over-the-top. However for devoted horror followers, the pleasures that Cobweb has to supply are easy and invigorating. At instances, it feels just like the movie has sprung forth straight from the pages of a Twentieth-century paperback horror novel — the type that authors like Christopher Pike (The Midnight Club) and R.L. Stine (Concern Avenue) constructed their legacies writing.

It’s a thinly drawn, cheaply constructed manufacturing, however it isn’t afraid to take dangers. And it’s bought, on the very least, one or two surprises up its sleeve that ought to shock even essentially the most keen-eyed of viewers. The movie isn’t as dusty or intricate as its title suggests, both, and its enamel are sharp sufficient for it to take a stable chunk out of anybody who offers it their time. As Cobweb’s deliriously rendered finale proves, merely overlaying one thing up isn’t all the time sufficient to maintain it hidden. Quite the opposite, typically it’s solely once they’ve been locked away within the darkest recesses of our minds that our secrets and techniques turn into stronger — and deadlier.

Cobweb is now enjoying in choose theaters.

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