By Chris Hammond
Lionsgate Presents COBWEB (2023)
July 21, 2023
Lizzy Caplan (Carol), Woody Norman (Peter), Cleopatra Coleman (Miss Devine),
Antony Starr (Mark)
Chris Thomas Devlin
Roy Lee, p.g.a., Andrew Childs, p.g.a., Evan Goldberg, p.g.a., Seth Rogen, p.g.a.,
James Weaver, p.g.a., Josh Fagen, p.g.a.
Drum & Lace
Eight-year-old Peter lives with his caring parents, but life at school isn’t easy. He’s bullied and not the most popular of kids. One night at home he begins to hear a tapping on his bedroom wall. He tells his parents who dismiss it as an overactive imagination. The tapping intensifies and Peter’s fear is gaining momentum. His parent’s don’t believe him and start to turn from caring to aggitated and angry. Peter believes his parents may be hiding some dangerous secret and can’t be trusted. Who can he trust if he can’t trust his parents?
COBWEB is inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s short story The Telltale Heart, which is one reason to check it out. It also has a stellar cast in the ever-engaging and versatile Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield, Castle Rock, Party Down, Fatal Attraction). It also stars Anthony Starr (aka the repugnant Homelander from the Amazon series The Boys), who is building quite the acting resume. Both perform exceptionally as Peter’s parents (Carol and Mark). They make you question what to think about them, are they as nice as they seem or are they hiding something deep and dark (specially when their son mentions the tapping on his bedroom wall).
Woody Norman who plays Peter gives a great anxiety-filled performance. He is left to unravel the webs of the mystery himself. It’s difficult to watch someone young go through the motions of questioning the ones who you call your parents. Should he trust the voice from within the walls (oh yes, he starts to communicate with the thing tapping behind the wall) or should he listen to his parents and trust them completely?
Peter’s story arc progresses more so in the second and third acts of the film. He becomes empowered and makes decisions for himself regardless of what his parents say, which I think many of us have also gone through (not to the extremes that he does in the film). Right or wrong Peter decides on a course of action and doesn’t falter from it. This leads to some very intense scenes and basically lays the groundwork for the finale.
The final cast member in this puzzle is Peter’s teacher Miss Devine (Cleopatra Coleman). She is concerned about Peter and starts to notice something is off with him. Her concern eats at her and she decides to pay a visit to his house to make sure everything is alright at home. Although his parents (Carol and Mark) appear concerned, things don’t seem right and Miss Devine gets a weird vibe from them. She leaves with more questions than answers. Coleman does a great job of portraying the ally of the young boy and possibly his only hope.
Director Samuel Bodin does a great job with pacing, the film doesn’t overstay its welcome. The camera angles and direction employed by Bodin only benefit this dark story. The creep factor in COBWEB is off the charts and Bodin in the puppetmaster of panic.
COBWEB is a slow festering burn, it has many twists and turns in the eighty-eight-minute runtime. Its atmospheric charm lies in Peter’s isolation. Do not fret though, the final act of the film is well worth the admission price. COBWEB isn’t breaking any new ground in the horror/thriller genre, but what it does it does well.
Get tangled in COBWEB from LIONSGATE exclusively in Theaters on July 21, 2023.