"Cobweb," directed by Samuel Bodin in his directorial debut and written by Chris Thomas Devlin, is a chilling and eerie American horror film from 2023. It explores the unsettling world of a tormented young boy with a standout cast and a captivating plot that seamlessly blends psychological horror and supernatural elements to keep viewers on edge.
Lizzy Caplan delivers a compelling performance as Carol, a mother grappling with her son's disturbing experiences. Antony Starr's portrayal of Mark, the emotionally distant and potentially abusive father, adds depth to the family dynamics. Cleopatra Coleman as Miss Devine and Woody Norman as the tormented young boy Peter round out the cast with exceptional performances that anchor the story in an atmosphere of unease.
The story revolves around Peter, a socially isolated 12-year-old who endures bullying at school and parental neglect at home. Peter's life takes a haunting turn when he becomes entangled with an enigmatic presence named Sarah, who claims to be trapped within the walls of his home. The film skillfully builds tension as the lines blur between Peter's imagination and a sinister reality.
The juxtaposition of Peter's grim reality with mysterious tapping sounds and unsettling occurrences creates a truly creepy atmosphere that permeates every scene. The narrative takes a sinister twist as Peter's interactions with Sarah escalate, revealing a disturbing backstory that implicates his parents in the disappearance of a young girl years ago. The film's pacing is expertly handled, gradually intensifying the dread and horror as Peter's mental state deteriorates.
One of the film's strengths lies in its ability to tap into primal fears—the fear of the unknown, the fragility of familial relationships, and the blurred lines between reality and delusion. As Peter's relationship with Sarah intensifies, Cleopatra Coleman's performance as Miss Devine brings an element of empathy and concern to the story.
"Cobweb" doesn't rely on excessive jump scares or gore; instead, it uses psychological terror to immerse the audience in Peter's unsettling world. The film's climax, set against the backdrop of Halloween Night, delivers a heart-pounding sequence that challenges the audience's perceptions and leaves them with lingering questions.
Samuel Bodin's directorial debut showcases a keen understanding of horror's nuances, effectively using visual and auditory cues to create an unsettling atmosphere. Chris Thomas Devlin's screenplay expertly balances supernatural elements with the psychological turmoil of the characters, resulting in a thought-provoking and genuinely terrifying experience.
The film's runtime of approximately 82 minutes is just right for a horror film, never feeling rushed despite its brevity. It skillfully keeps viewers guessing about the true nature of the parents' roles in the story. The use of darkness in the climax, while understandable due to budget constraints, can be frustrating as it obscures some crucial details.
Woody Norman delivers a standout performance as young Peter, evoking sympathy from viewers without becoming annoying or unlikeable. Although Antony Starr's departure from his familiar Homelander role might initially surprise audiences, he handles his character's complexity well.
In conclusion, "Cobweb" is a gripping and atmospheric horror film that lingers in your mind. With its outstanding cast, intricate plot, and skillful blending of psychological horror and supernatural elements, the film delves into the depths of darkness, both external and within the human psyche. While the use of darkness in the climax may leave some viewers wanting more clarity, it doesn't diminish the overall impact of this suspenseful and tension-filled movie. For horror enthusiasts who prefer a slow build over gratuitous gore and jump scares, "Cobweb" is a must-see. I score "Cobweb" a solid 8.5/10.