Review: Cobweb might be accused of adhering to some familiar horror tropes, but its commitment to its genre roots is what makes it stand out. The movie surpasses expectations with its tight narrative, commendable performances, and a commitment to delivering unadulterated horror.
In the cluttered landscape of contemporary studio horror, where cheap scares and formulaic narratives can often overshadow genuine creativity, Cobweb emerges as a breath of chilling, nightmarish air. Directed by Samuel Bodin in his impressive debut, the movie, now streaming on Hulu and readily available to watch at home, manages to transcend its potential trappings to deliver a concise, visceral, and surprisingly effective horror experience.
Clocking in at a brisk 88 minutes, Cobweb wastes no time immersing you into the eerie world of young Peter, convincingly portrayed by Woody Norman. Plagued by an incessant tapping from within his bedroom wall, Peter’s escalating fear becomes the focal point of a narrative that cleverly teases the line between imagination and the macabre reality that unfolds. The film’s brevity is a strength, ensuring that every moment counts, with no room for unnecessary detours.
Antony Starr and Lizzy Caplan, portraying Peter’s parents, Mark and Carol, deliver performances that oscillate between strange and sinister. The palpable tension in their interactions with Peter sets the stage for a psychological thriller that keeps you guessing. Starr, known mostly for his reoccurring role in The Boys, adds an unsettling layer to his character, while Caplan’s nuanced portrayal adds depth to the mysterious dynamics within the family.
Woody Norman, as Peter, navigates the emotional complexities of his character with commendable authenticity. His portrayal captures the vulnerability of a young boy grappling with the fear of nearly everything around him, from bullying at school to a home environment that becomes increasingly unwelcoming. Norman’s performance serves as the emotional anchor of the movie, grounding the horror in the relatable struggles of adolescence.
Cleopatra Coleman, as Peter’s elementary school teacher Miss Devine, provides a welcome respite from the darkness surrounding Peter. Her character, a beacon of warmth and support in his troubled life, adds a layer of humanity to Cobweb. Coleman’s performance, though brief to start, leaves a lasting impression and highlights the film’s ability to balance moments of lightness amidst the encroaching shadows.
Cobweb might be accused of adhering to some familiar horror tropes, but its commitment to its genre roots is what makes it stand out. It unabashedly embraces its identity as a breakneck, gory, and gnarly horror movie, uninterested in unraveling grand thematic ideas. Instead, it delivers an unapologetic, blood-curdling experience that knows precisely what it wants to be—an adrenaline-pumping scare-fest.
The final 20 minutes of Cobweb are some of the best moments of horror this year, hitting the audience with a relentless barrage of cleverly designed and expertly blocked scares. The film’s monster, a creation of nightmare-inducing visual effects and contorting bodily images, lingers in the mind long after the credits roll. It’s a testament to the craftsmanship of the filmmakers and effects team that they manage to breathe new life into a genre sometimes accused of stagnation at the studio level.
Reviews for Movies like Cobweb (2023)
And while Cobweb may, at a glance, appear to be another entry in the inundated market of James Wan-style horror in terms of look and cinematography, it defies expectations with its standout elements. The performances, a tight narrative, and the marriage of creepy and gory visual effects elevate it above the sea of forgettable imitations. Director Samuel Bodin showcases a keen understanding of horror’s mechanics, leaving viewers (myself included) both terrified and intrigued about his future endeavors.
Despite its slightly warm reception in theaters and the overshadowing box office of other horror juggernauts, Cobweb proves itself as a fun, harmless, and surprisingly sinister B-movie. In a year where horror has struggled to leave a lasting impact, Cobweb manages to carve its own niche, offering a thrilling experience that horror enthusiasts have been craving.
The script, penned by Chris Thomas Devlin (2022’s reboot of Texas Chainsaw Massacre) might not be groundbreaking, but it serves its purpose well. Cobweb avoids the pitfalls of trying to be something it’s not, embracing its small-scale status with a refreshing self-awareness. As horror often takes itself too seriously, the film is a reminder that it can be both entertaining and sinister without the need for pretension.
Cobweb surpasses expectations with its tight narrative, commendable performances, and a commitment to delivering unadulterated horror. Director Samuel Bodin’s debut leaves an indelible mark, and while the movie may not have garnered the attention it deserves, it stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of well-executed, spine-tingling terror.
Watch Cobweb on Hulu
Film Cast and Credits
Woody Norman as Peter
Lizzy Caplan as Carol
Antony Starr as Mark
Cleopatra Coleman as Miss Devine
Director: Samuel Bodin
Writer: Chris Thomas Devlin
Cinematography: Philip Lozano
Composer: Sofia Hultquist