Cobweb is a new horror film directed by Samuel Bodin which follows the character of Peter (Woody Norman), a troubled child who begins to listen to a voice in the walls of his room. This isn’t Bodin’s first go-around in the horror genre with the French horror TV show, Marianne. In the following interview with Borrowing Tape, he tells us how Cobweb came together and the overall filmmaking process. Cobweb starts showing in theaters on July 21, 2023, and will be available on PVOD on August 11, 2023.
Watch,listen, or read the transcript below — edited and condensed for clarity:
Samuel. Are you there?
Yeah, hello Tyler, nice to meet you.
Hello, nice to meet you as well. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today and just congrats with everything going on with Cobweb.
All right. All right. All right. so just for starters here, I'm sure you've been asked this plenty of times, but just for the website, what's the overall elevator pitch here on Cobweb? What's the plot?
Oh, that's a difficult question. It's a story, you know. Usually, you do that before doing the movie. You know, we try to do the movie, you pitch.
I was just using terminology, man.
Cobweb is a story of Peter, a little boy who is sleeping in his bedroom, and one night in the middle of the night, he hears something behind the wall. So he stands up, comes close to the wall, put his ear on the wall, and hears something being doing tap, tap, tap. And since that moment everything will go bad. That's the pitch, a little one.
There we go. well, that's great. It's a great film I really enjoyed, I can't wait for a lot more people to check it out in the coming weeks. So, Cobweb feels like it's going in one direction, and then it feels like it shifts into something that maybe audiences aren't expecting later on in the film. When you shot the film, did you primarily shoot this in order? So you can keep consistency with production and the flow of the story, or were you guys just a little all over the place?
No, no, no, it or we say in English. Yeah, we shot things. everything was all over the place, as you say. No, no, totally. So we did a big work in preparation, to be very clear where we will be in the story each time we shoot the sequence. You know, we say, OK, we worked a lot on the sequence, at this point, the audience has to know that, the characters has to know that and we think that the parents know that, and that it was the case on every sequence.
And we worked a lot with the actors and with my DOP and after that, with Drum & Lace for the score. That way, you know. So we had this kind of script with a kind of partition of really: where is the mystery, at what point we are at, what step we are of that overall process, you know the unplugged process, to be able to not lose ourselves each day. But because sometimes we did, I don't know, it was the very beginning of the story in the morning and the afternoon, it was the sequence of the end. So, we had to be able to check on it with the same intensity and not make a faux pas. So yeah, we worked a lot in preparation and we storyboarded a lot of things, and it was like a color script at Pixar, really [a] color script. So we were able to say, "OK, we are 'here' in the movie. So let's go on that."
OK, perfect, perfect. So, I guess I'll call it just for not giving away any spoilers. I'll call it the evil threat of this film feels part paranormal and it also feels kind of part grounded in reality. So without you giving too much away, were you going for something like that or did it just kind of happen in pre-production?
No, we talked a lot with Chris [Thomas Devlin], the scriptwriter, and my producers to find the good place for that. You know, because I really wanted something that feel classical, like in an old movie. I love that feeling when you watch a movie. We didn't search for originality. We searched for that genuine feeling. You know that, "Oh, that's it." And that here, you can feel it, you can touch it. It's crawling somewhere but it's here. It's not CGI, it's practical. And, also think, when you want to play with reality, reality gives you its own rule, so that a lot of things that we couldn't do.
And I think it's very grounded, but the idea, it's supernatural. We could explain nearly everything about 'that' thing. But I love when you can't understand everything. I think it's part of fear. If everything is grounded, you are in another type of horror. I wanted that feeling that you have when something is really crawling in a wrong way. We tried to find our own level of grounded supernatural thing. At the time, we did test[s] before shooting and we made modification[s] And so then we say, "OK, it's that, we have what we want": and after that, I really wanted to play with the frame rate to have this old feeling about creatures and things like that.
I wanna ask you a question specifically of one character, Miss Divine played by Cleopatra Coleman. She almost felt at times like a Scatman Crothers in The Shining, just kind of this character on the outside of the conflict that soon enters it. She just really stuck out to me really well, I mean, she's a great actress as well. What are your thoughts on that character?
I'm so happy that you said that because it was totally anxiety, we worked on every scene together on everything. My feeling about the character of Cleo is that it's the only character that you can trust, and it's the only character who comes from the reality. All the other characters — Peter is an exception because Peter is our eyes — but the parents are really not grounded in a way, they are in their own universe. It's like you are in a Grimm fairy tale thing and Cleopatra is coming from reality and entering that place, and when she's entering the house, it's exactly like The Shining and she walks the same rhythm when entering The Shining. So it's really that feeling that we wanted to create something from the outside come inside, I would say, that little place of horror.
Yeah. I don't want to exclude the rest of the cast because I thought everybody in this film was great. So let's talk about the main cast. Woody Norman, Lizzy Caplan, and Antony Starr deliver great performances all around. How did you assemble such a believable on-screen family, so to speak?
I am lucky like I say, I am lucky but so cool to have the opportunity to work with all of them. And what I love is that when we find ourselves together in the same room, we did really a craft drama works really with the kids and, at the table like a family and we build that from scratch. And wanted to find all the two faces of a coin on each character. You can love and trust Lizzy totally, and suddenly she can become the things that you can scare the most. And it's the same for Antony, you say "OK, I trust that guy" and suddenly, you don't want to be in the same room with him because "this guy will kill me."
And it was really a very precise slalom and it was very playful, to play. You are not in a normal ground as an actor, it's easy. We really have fun to always work to be just next to reality, [and] be ahead of the audience and make fast turns on everything. So it was great to build that weird family in a way.
Yeah. I just wanna ask you and, you know, we can tie it into the film as well. But I know you've worked in the horror thriller genre, a little bit outside of this project. Has it always kind of been this genre for you that you've been interested in?
No, not only, to be honest, I did a lot of comedy, [and] adventure projects. I have more horror to come because I love that way of expression. But I have a love story in the process too. But what I know [is] that I want to do that since I'm a kid, I really want to tell scary stories since I'm a kid. But I had that feeling when I was younger that no, you can't make a horror movie until you are 50 because you will put everything you want inside and it will be bad.
So, you know I wait, before Cobweb, Marianne come in France, it was a TV show. So I said, oh, you're allowed to do a TV show. So it was by the first time that I could express that and after that, it was too late. I love reading scary stories and I love filming them and finding a good way to be so playful, so cinematographic. And, there is so much to learn. I have so much to learn. So I really, really want to continue in that way, but it will never stop me to explore the other genres, in a way.
OK. Great. final question here. I just wanted to ask again about the villain of the movie per se or the evil threat — I don't know what to call it without giving it away. But in this film, we hear it, we kind of see brief glimpses of it up until kind of the final act of the movie. You mentioned being a fan of older films and whatnot a few minutes ago. Do you believe in kind of that old 'not showing too much of the monster'? And you know, it's what you see that don't get you scared until the final part of the film — do you believe in that kind of trope?
I totally believe in that. Yeah, absolutely. You know, I am Team Jaws totally, I can say that is the best way. But sometimes, for example, in The Host by Bong Joon Ho, it's the other way around and it works so well. You really have to feel those intentions before going on the project. I wanted to show very, very few of that thing. I want to create something that can feel a presence without seeing, like hair, for example, or this kind of thing on spider or this kind of...So, yeah, I really think that the more you can imagine stuff, the more scarier you will be. You know, your whole life is always scarier than what I can read show you. So yes, yes, I'm on that team. But you know, and sometimes I see a movie and, and a creature jumps at me at minute five and say, "Oh, that's so great", so you have to find what makes sense with your story.
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. All right, Samuel, thank you so much for just sitting down with me and talking about Cobweb, and again, just everybody — go out and see it when you get a chance to. It's a fun little 90-minute horror thriller for everybody. Good luck with everything that happens with the film down the road.