Reviewed by Cliff Homewood
Cobweb is fusty. As regular as the American school bus our 8-year-old hero takes to school. He’s bullied of course, but that’s not developed well. I do not want to bully this film but it’s an easy target. It’s around 90 minutes long, the right length for the standard horror film which it is. It’s a debut feature for Director Samuel Bodin, a pretty good debut – ignoring greats like Duel. He was chosen having directed the slow but disturbing French horror series Marianne. Highly recommended. More realistic than Cobweb as the horror slowly seeps into the tale, Cobweb feels more outlandish when the horror element emerges, however the ground was laid (inspired by Poe’s The Telltale Heart).
I’m reluctant to impart much detail as it would spoil the mystery sustaining the film’s slow unravelling first half. Comparative to a 70s horror in its slowness, not particularly engaging as most the characters aren’t exactly warm. If the bullying had been centre stage you would quickly feel for the main character. Cobweb provides one scene of the bully stomping our hero’s pumpkin and a voiceover telling you he is bullied. A film should show not tell.
When the film’s secret is revealed you become sympathetic. It’s then a storytelling powerhouse. The second half has momentum, moves fast, having you on the edge of your seat.
The location’s unique, our hero’s a pumpkin patch kid. Set at Halloween when the family harvest pumpkins. Talking of family, you know you are in trouble when your Father is a Homelander! Antony Starr’s presence slightly off-putting. The fault lying in the film’s first half not immersing, having time to ponder, wait a minute, I recognise him …
Like most horrors Cobweb has a flair for the melodramatic. Oh look, a spider! DA DA DA! Underwhelming unless you are arachnophobic. The scary music dies down once it is caught and released outside. Spiders actually live in the house, putting them outside will probably kill them.
Cobweb’s screenplay was in the 2018 Black List (a list of great unfilmed screenplays). Surprising as we’ve had better recent horror films like The Black Phone which hooked me from the beginning. It does have some interesting story twists.
Cobweb is generic, being reminiscent of better films in its scares, but still atmospheric. It provides the usual exciting horror thrill ride. Its ending is frustratingly vague.