The Movie Waffler New to VOD - COBWEB | The Movie Waffler


A young boy begins to question his parents when a voice speaks to him through the walls.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Samuel Bodin

Starring: Woody Norman, Lizzy Caplan, Antony Starr, Cleopatra Coleman

Cobweb poster

Like Don't Breathe and Barbarian, Cobweb is another genre thriller set in the abandoned ruins of a once thriving American suburbia. All of these movies are filmed on sets in Eastern Europe, allowing for a Gothic refashioning of the US suburbs. They take place in houses that once stood proud, but like the Bates' house since the highway was constructed, now stand crooked and misshapen like tombstones in a Universal horror cemetery. You can't help but wonder if the Slavic production crews are enjoying replicating a nightmarish vision of America in the same way Hollywood did for Eastern European villages back in the heyday of Gothic horror.

Cobweb review

The house at the centre of Cobweb is so over the top in its creepiness that it immediately establishes an ethereal tone to the movie. Though it's populated by a family, it has the eerily vacated look of the Myers' house, and out back it boasts a pumpkin patch to rival the one from that classic Peanuts Halloween special. The kitchen looks suspiciously similar to that of the aforementioned Bates' house, as seen in Psycho II.

It's no wonder young Peter (Woody Norman) has trouble sleeping. Not only does he live in the set of a horror movie, but his parents are straight out of a Roald Dahl story. His father, Mark (Antony Starr), presents an almost parodic façade of a suburban Dad, always carrying a hammer, yet he seems uncomfortable in his skin, as though he's been body snatched. Mom Carol (Lizzy Caplan) is a bug-eyed bundle of nerves with a wardrobe borrowed from Mrs Danvers. As if that wasn't enough, there's a spooky female voice emanating from within the walls.

Cobweb review

Life outside 1313 Mockingbird Lane isn't much better for poor Peter. At school he's bullied, and in a direct reference to John Carpenter's Halloween, has his pumpkin smashed by one loathsome little oik. When he draws a picture that seems to serve as a plea for help, Peter's substitute teacher, Miss Devine (Cleopatra Coleman), decides to make a…divine intervention, leading to more trouble for Peter.

Aside from its setting, Cobweb also resembles Barbarian in beginning as a grounded thriller and gradually morphing into a monster movie. The opening acts nod to the likes of Psycho and Bad Ronald, but by the climax we're in the territory of Sam Raimi. First time director Samuel Bodin does a fine balancing act of ensuring this development never jars. This is largely achieved by planting us in a setting that never feels entirely recognisable enough to be taken at face value. We're in the world of the Brothers Grimm or Roald Dahl here, with Peter's parents the classic sinister adults of so many stories designed to channel a child's greatest fear, that of being left alone in a world where no adults can be trusted. Peter's relationship with the kindly Miss Devine echoes something Tobe Hooper tapped into with his Invaders from Mars remake, with that film's young hero aided by a similarly angelic school nurse.

Cobweb review

If the climax descends into J-horror clichés with its lank-haired ghoul scuttling about on all fours, Bodin's skill at assembling an adrenalised home invasion set-piece allows us to overlook Cobweb's derivativeness. There's something very French about how Bodin's action filmmaking combines high octane thrills with a studied and controlled approach, and the final massacre plays a lot like the opening scene of Luc Besson's Leon. An unconvincing coda suggests a sequel, but while I'm not sure there's anywhere left to take this particular property, I'm certainly looking forward to more from Monsieur Bodin.

Cobweb is on UK/ROI VOD now.

2023 movie reviews