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The new horror film by Samuel Bodin, Cobweb, hitting theaters on July 21st, offers something appealingly different — a mood, a vibe, something eerie that won’t leave you alone and consumes all frames of the film. To creep out audiences could be what Bodin wanted to do in this instance. Cobweb is ethereal but it is also a lot of fun as well as goosebumps inducing. It’s scary too so go ahead and gorge down on this mid-summer thriller.

Cobweb has everything going for it. A trapped young boy, two tightly coiled parents, and an old strange house holding some kind of secret are amongst the better examples that can be offered. Also set around Halloween time, although Cobweb could delight even if screenwriter Chris Thomas Devlin (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) didn’t use fall to describe events (On a side note: Why isn’t this film being released in October?).

This year has seen few horror films that are more innovative or well executed than Cobweb which strikes a great balance between chills-thrills-and-other-creepy-delights without resorting to cheap tricks to unsettle us. Allowing the audience instead to fill in many of the blanks with their own minds is part of what makes it really terrifying.

Coming from the producers of Barbarian and It; featuring Lizzy Caplan (Party Down/Fleishman Is in Trouble), Cleopatra Coleman; Antony Starr; and an exceptional Woody Norman as young Peter plus excellent performances across the board, these people have got your back. But you might find something else entirely.

Samuel Bodin was said to have been so taken with Chris Thomas Devlin’s script he wanted to create a fairy-tale universe within Cobweb. Mostly he does accomplish that task as every now and then we seem to have tumbled into some foreboding Grimms’ Fairy Tale where everything is about to end badly.

At night, young Peter (Woody Norman) suddenly hears tapping behind the walls of his bedroom. It’s something he has never heard before; even though his parents (Caplan and Starr in full chills mode) insist that it’s all in his head, Peter can’t completely shake it away. He also has nightmares. But then again are they nightmares? Peter doesn’t know either- but neither do we.

Miss Devine is a substitute teacher at school with whom the boy finds some solace; she senses something isn’t right and bravely goes straight to Peter’s house where she confronts Carol, his mother. Caplan has always been great at playing multi-layered characters, if not tormented ones. Let’s face it: she made Paramount+’s Fatal Attraction watchable. This time around, she takes what the script has given her and adds her own special twist to it as well. Something is wrong with Carol though, overly protective of her son Peter which seems strange in some way.

Though Carol is more grounded than Papa Mark (Starr), there is also something cold and distant about her. Starr, while not reaching the stellar heights achieved by Caplan as a parent, does manage to do so to some extent. This soon brings us to a story from the past that happened somewhere in the vicinity. Is this what Peter is hearing when he taps in his room? At the mid-point of the film, Peter finds himself under attack from every side. A schoolyard bullying incident turns nasty−with his parents being forced to keep him within their house peter loses faith in them. Thereafter comes a big twist in the movie−a thrill ride that has an exciting effect and leaves us on our toes all through till it ends.

If you remember how surprised you were after watching Barbarian and how astonished you were at what you found out along the way, Cobweb does much of this but keeps it new.

It pays off with Bodin’s lighting effects and sometimes dimly lit scenes too. The screenwriter and director never really show exactly what that thing behind those walls is which in my opinion goes to their credit. And thus making Cobweb incredibly freaky.

There are some very easy ones however where we should suspend disbelief among some of the more WTF moments of this movie. For example why would a family of three live in such a large house? Though on another hand maybe they need a few rooms for hiding huge secrets as it might be required by this particular family. Furthermore, when Miss Devine who was substituting seems to have stayed for longer at school than most substitute teachers would like there’s still little bit of “let’s get on with it.” These events happen over several days.

All these are small things though.By now towards end stage surprise releases its grip on Peter letting him know exactly what’s happening.It hardly ever happens when horror films capture such feeling nowadays.The audiences have been made numb by every Insidious and Saw film that comes out.The ending of the film is one that Bodin will no doubt get many talking about as it leans into psychological horror again. Good job!

Cobweb is a great thrill. It’s amazing and terrifying. And that’s the perfect web to find yourself captured in when watching a horror film.

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