Cobweb 2023

Coming in at under 90 minutes, Cobweb (2023) is a relatively star-studded little gem, perfectly suited for an entertaining bit of Halloween indulgence. Directed by Sam Bodin (who has Netflix TV Series Marianne to his name) Cobweb stars Cloverfield’s Lizzy Caplan and The Boys’ Anthony Starr, as oddly overbearing parents to a sensitive pre-teen named Peter, played by Woody Norman, recognisable from another 2023 horror, The Last Voyage of The Demeter.

Peter is a timid boy who, when he’s not being picked on at school, begins to hear strange tapping and, eventually, a voice speaking to him from within his bedroom walls. Dismissed as overly imaginative by his parents, Peter’s distress is noticed by his substitute teacher, Miss Devine, played by Cleopatra Coleman (fresh from a supporting role in Infinity Pool), who’s keen to investigate what could be troubling her shy pupil.


Set predominantly within the Tardis-like family home, Cobweb (2023) revels in its unsubtly spooky tendencies with poorly lit, shadowy interiors and a focus on Halloween, with scenes drenched in oranges and autumnal shading, and pumpkins and trick or treating featuring heavily throughout.

The parents are pleasingly overacted as both Caplan and Starr ramp up the foreboding, as the story plays out, with an entertaining level of camp derangement that forces the viewer to question the assumed wholesomeness of the family unit. Despite certain clichés, like trauma disclosed via the medium of infantile drawing, or the back story of Halloween disappearances, secrets buried in the garden, and the ever-fearful basement, they do the film no harm at all. Indeed, Cobweb isn’t interested in breaking new ground in psychological horror cinema, and unashamedly relishes many of those well-worn tropes.


The house setting nods to beautiful if under-lit, homely interiors that are purposely dwarfed by walls that stretch out, contorting the viewer’s sense of space. The family home’s labyrinthine quality also nods to Wes Craven’sThe People Under the Stairs (1991). Shadows are elongated to almost German Expressionistic lengths at times, and the warped theatrics recall the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm or a Tim Burton-styled sense of American Gothic.

There are plot holes a plenty, with a third act that only serves to up the body count with a surprisingly gory Halloween night climax. The final threat brought to mind comparisons to Malignant (2021), the effortless perpendicular scampering of Toni Collette in Hereditary (2018)as well as a possible American answer to J Horror’s fearful hirsute menaces. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by Cobweb (2023), a modern Halloween yarn, without delusions of grandeur, that gleefully hammers out some entertaining, campy thrills.



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