“Cobweb” Review

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“Cobweb” Rating: 3/5

“Cobweb” is a sneaky little horror film that flew under the radar with the “Barbenheimer” hype. Rest assured, I’ve got the scary movies covered, too.

Peter, a shy young boy lives with overprotective parents. He begins to hear knocking noises coming from inside his wall. The knocking soon turns into voices, leading Peter to believe his parents are hiding something sinister. Is Peter imagining things? Or does something terrifying lurk within his walls?

Positives

Whenever visiting small-scale movies, I’m reminded of what filmmakers can do if they get creative. There’s plenty to achieve with small budgets, and director Samuel Bodin does a lot. Sometimes simplicity, creepy imagery, slow-burn tension and a dreary score make for an effective little film.

The story manages to include some creepy, symbolic imagery that creates intrigue and dread. Whether it be Peter’s wall, a creepy house or the fall setting, there’s no shortage of spooky vibes. These elements are highlighted with neat utilizations of silhouettes and visuals.

I was surprised to see such a good cast from a film that received very little marketing. Lizzy Caplan, Antony Starr, and Cleopatra Coleman all deliver solid performances here.

Patience is also an attribute the film succeeds with. The 88-minute runtime never overstays its welcome, but there are enough slow moments to feel the claustrophobic nature of Peter’s life. He doesn’t know what to believe once these events start taking place. His parents are clearly distributing erratic behavior, and the voice in the wall adds to his discontent. If I were a child in Peter’s shoes, his parents would terrify me. Their unsettling actions kept me engaged and wondering what would happen next. Let me say, there were certainly surprises to be had.

Some thematic elements of childhood trauma, overprotective parenting and neglect are explored, as well. The film gets scarier and scarier as the story moves along. At first, it almost seemed like the film would take a dramatic/thriller approach, but the third act unleashes a truly bonkers finale filled with gore. I suppose the suspense of what lurks beneath was a fun mystery to experience. Sometimes that’s enough, right?

Negatives

“Cobweb” has so much going for it, but there are some truly perplexing directions with the narrative that bring it down. Certain story beats borrow from other horror movies to a degree that is copy/paste. There’s enough about the plot to stay interesting, but we’ve seen most of this before.

Some serious logic issues ensue as well, starting with Peter’s teacher. She’s introduced as a substitute, but quickly forms enough of an attachment to visit his home on multiple occasions. It feels unrealistic and inappropriate, so I understand why the parents would be upset with her.

I also felt the story’s tone was a bit jarring, feeling like a drama or a thriller, rather than a creature feature. It seems like they were piecing together three different movies. Plot holes were also prominent, whether that be bringing together the story or the parent’s motivations for their actions taken. It’s hard to explain without spoiling, so I’ll stop there.

The ending of the film is underwhelming too, wrapping up on a point that doesn’t feel satisfying. It’s as if the filmmakers couldn’t decide on an ending or rewrote it entirely. Like I say, the final 20 minutes feel very separated in tone from the rest of the film. There’s also a bully element to the film that felt stretched to an extreme degree, particularly in the third act. These flaws are unfortunately large and hamper “Cobweb” from being great. Hopefully director Samuel Bodin takes notes on plot fluidity and logic gaps for his next film because he has lots to be proud of here.

Conclusion

I’m glad I found “Cobweb” after looking through the new releases this month. I believe it could find success among the mainstream crowd, but perhaps the charming indie nature of it would be spoiled if it did.

The film crafts some suspenseful sequences and a drab tone throughout. Really feels like a creepy Halloween flick destined for a cult following. Some glaring issues hold it back from being one of the year’s best horror films, but the story is unique enough to warrant a watch. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see Antony Starr in a horror movie?

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