- Movie Rating -

Cobweb (2023)

| August 1, 2023

I come to you now, dear reader with a confession.  I am reviewing Sam Bodin’s new horror thriller Cobweb without having finished it.  Yes, I bailed on it, probably about the point where the father started barfing and retching gallons of blood all over the kitchen table.  This was not a flippant decision.  I had seen more than an hour of the film’s 90-minute running time and by that point decided that I had really seen enough.  Life is short and this train was going nowhere.  It should also be said that this hour was preceded by a full morning of trying and failing to get a refund from Little Caesar’s.  That’s a horror show all on its own.

Cobweb is the kind of movie that was conceived and constructed by people whose sole motivation was having seen a lot of better movies, but were not apparently talented enough to write one.  It is equal parts The Sixth Sense, The Shining, Let the Right One In, Poltergeist, The Conjuring, Insidious and The Haunting.  It borrows heavily from all of these movies without having the courtesy to understand what made them work.  You’ll remember those movies 30 years from now.  Cobweb will fall into the dustbins by the time this week is out.

The movie begins with a bump in the night.  Ten-year-old Peter (Woody Norman) hears the noises coming from behind his bedroom wall.  They get louder and more ferocious.  Eventually he hears a voice that he doesn’t recognize.  Who is this?  What is this?  His parents investigate and hear nothing, but he is insistent that something is in there.

This might be something if the setting were a little different.  The family home looks over decorated, with an aesthetic borrowed heavily from Norman Bates’ house.  When he approaches the wall that is the source of all the noise, the wallpaper looks like a gray series pattern that would adorn a fortune teller’s den; it’s the kind of thing that no adult would ever put in their kid’s room.  The whole house is like that – dimly lit, with all kinds of dim light and twisty architecture.  In other words, it looks like it was designed for a horror movie.  It would be scarier if it were more comfortable – a sanctuary of domestic safety that seemed in danger of being invaded by forces that the family could not control.  From the first moment, we can tell that something is wrong with this house and our logic center wonders why the parents didn’t detect this when they bought the place.

The parents, Carol and Mark, are a real study in and of themselves.  They are played by Lizzy Caplin and Anthony Starr in weirdly inconsistent performances playing character who are normally one minute and riddled with demonic insanity the next.  There is a teacher at school named Miss Devine (Cleopatra Coleman) who worries about Peter’s well-being.  He’s bullied unmercifully at school and she worries that it may be cause to investigate.  When she comes to the house, things happen – beginning with blood dripping down Mark’s arm that should have had her calling 9-1-1.

Cobweb isn’t made with any storytelling ambition.  It is made with a lot of manipulation, jump scares and visual effects.  The story doesn’t matter because no one really bothered to make one.  At one point, you just give up trying to make sense of it because the filmmakers have given up trying to provide you with a film that makes a lick of sense.  Given that, I just gave up.  Its hard to care about the back half of the story when the middle half features the dad retching blood.  You just can’t go anywhere with that.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2023) View IMDB Filed in: Horror