Original title:Cobweb
Director:Samuel Bodin
Running time:88 minutes
Release date:21 july 2023
Eight-year-old Peter is tormented by a mysterious, incessant tapping noise coming from his bedroom wall - but his parents insist it's just a figment of his imagination. As his fear intensifies, Peter becomes convinced that his parents are hiding a terrible secret from him and loses all trust in them, which only increases his anxiety and terrors...

Mulder's Review

Cobweb unveils a story that pays homage to the great horror classics, while facing its own challenges to weave a truly captivating cinematic experience. Cobweb doesn't hesitate to reference its predecessors, shot by shot, relying on dusty threads that link it to well-established classics. This network of connections brings both a comforting familiarity for horror aficionados and a potential discomfort when the film navigates between homage and originality.

Set in the week leading up to Halloween, Cobweb plunges us into the life of Peter (Woody Norman), a young boy tormented by nightmares and mysterious noises emanating from the confines of his home. The script establishes a blend of eerie anticipation by interweaving influences from great horror films such as The Shining, where ax blows filmed in whip-smart panoramas signal impending doom. Lizzy Caplan, as Peter's mother Carol, adds layers of complexity, playing both a comforting presence and a source of potential malevolence. Antony Starr's performance as Peter's father Mark also contributes to the prevailing atmosphere of dread, casting doubt on the true nature of their characters.

Yet, while the film gradually fleshes out its plot, it occasionally stumbles in its execution. Although the film's screenplay found its way onto the prestigious Black List, an index of distinguished unproduced scripts, the journey from page to screen reveals shortcomings. Samuel Bodin's direction, while occasionally inspired, lacks the creative energy to sustain tension. The cinematography, entrusted to Philip Lozano, tends towards obscurity and fails to capture the cinematic essence demanded by the horror genre.

Getting from script to screen is a journey fraught with pitfalls, with a myriad of factors influencing the final product. Elements such as pacing, staging and post-production choices play a vital role in shaping the final result. It's worth noting that even seasoned directors have fallen victim to the dangers of interpretation. Screenwriter Thomas Devlin's ability to craft a story worthy of the Black List testifies to a promising foundation.

Cobweb attempts to take the viewer on a journey that lingers in the twilight zone between reality and horror. The psychological facets of Peter's character, confronted with bullying, ominous whispers from within the walls and the disturbing behavior of his parents, are convincing. However, the film's potential often seems untapped. The conclusion, crucial to providing a satisfactory solution to the mounting tension, falls short. The denouement doesn't live up to the build-up, leaving the audience with a sense of dismay and longing for a more resounding climax.

While the film oscillates between homage and innovation, it opens up discussions on the general state of the horror genre. At a time when there are concerns about the potential influence of AI on storytelling, and when the industry is grappling with the intersection of technology and creativity, Cobweb reminds us that storytelling remains a nuanced art. It's a reminder that resonates in the era of Hollywood's evolving landscape.

Cobweb conjures up visions of a tantalizing horrific experience, filled with nods to genre titans and aspirations to create its own brand. However, his threads become somewhat tangled as he navigates the labyrinth of horror history. The film's performances, particularly those of Caplan and Starr, elevate it beyond mediocrity, but its inability to fully unveil its mysteries and deliver a climax worthy of its construction ultimately leaves it a Cobweb prisoner of unfulfilled expectations. If Cobweb is a window into the future of horror, it's a glimpse that leaves room for greater clarity and refinement.

Directed by Samuel Bodin
Written by Chris Thomas Devlin
Produced by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, James Weaver, Josh Fagen, Roy Lee, Andrew Childs
Starring Lizzy Caplan, Woody Norman, Cleopatra Coleman, Antony Starr
Cinematography : Philip Lozano
Edited by Kevin Greutert, Richard Riffaud
Music by Drum & Lace
Production companies : Point Grey Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment
Distributed by Lionsgate (United States), Metropolitan FilmExport (France)
Release date : July 19, 2023 (France), July 21, 2023 (United States)
Running time : 88 minutes

Viewed August 13, 2023 (VOD)

Mulder's Mark: