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Movie Review: “COBWEB” Spins An Over-the-Top Summerween Spell

Thursday, July 20, 2023 | Reviews


Starring Lizzy Caplan, Antony Starr and Cleopatra Coleman
Directed by Samuel Bodin
Written by Chris Thomas Devlin

Denial can be deadly. Secrets can be lethal. And things are rarely as they seem
Halloween has arrived early in the candy-coated fever dream that is Samuel Bodin’s COBWEB. The somewhat too-polished spooky atmosphere lends the perfect backdrop for the terror that Peter (Woody Norman) experiences both at school and more insidiously, at home. Plagued by a phantom knocking on his walls at night, Peter’s parents, Carol (Lizzy Caplan) and Mark (Antony Starr) vehemently assure the boy that this knocking is indeed all in his imagination.

At school, Peter is targeted by the class bully, Brian (Luke Busey). He keeps to himself, doing everything he can to avoid recess because that’s when the threat of violence is the greatest. Thankfully, the new substitute teacher, Miss Devine (Cleopatra Coleman), is sympathetic, allowing Peter to hang back and help her with the Halloween decorations. It is here that the relationship that could save Peter’s very life is formed because, at home, there’s no place to hide from the bully. A week before Halloween, Miss Devine innocently asks Peter what he’s dressing up as, which sparks an interesting conversation at home. Carol immediately tenses, offering a traumatic story of Halloween past: A girl leaves to go trick-or-treating – never to be seen again. And yet, the backyard of the family home is filled with a sprawling crop of pumpkins, and a jack-o-lantern sits perched upon the family’s porch on Halloween night.

Behind COBWEB is producer Roy Lee, best known for 2022’s Barbarian and 2017’s IT, and there’s no shortage of his influence as the film draws closer and closer to the sweet, innocent voice that speaks from behind the walls. The voice that weaves doubt into Peter’s young mind – a mind that has already been ignored and oppressed by his parents. Ultimately, Peter is just as alone and isolated as the sinister siren lurking within the lingering shadows of a dying home.

COBWEB offers up a tangible, atmospheric mastery that is both eerily outlandish and perfectly disquieting. It satisfies the craving for Halloween in July but also offers a fast-moving, unique tension between the seen and unseen. This surreal horror unravels on a shaky stage, a decaying platform where we assume safety lies – only to uncover the true horrors that hide beneath the players’ masks. And it is here that we are offered a glimpse into just how fragile – and fatal – those masks can be.

COBWEB is now playing exclusively in theaters.


Jillian Kristina
Jillian Kristina blends her love of horror and magic to facilitate healing from the real horrors in the world. Stephen King's movies and books raised her; magic and the occult molded and healed her. Find her on Instagram @root_down, on Twitter @RootDownTarot, and through her website