Samuel Bodin’s horror film Cobwebwas released to theaters July 19, 2023. Its buzz was relatively quiet due to the noise around the WGA/SAG strike, plus the release of Oppenheimer and Barbie. Cobweb is director Samuel Bodin’s dive into feature films after his short-lived but well-admired Netflix series Marianne.Cobweb follows Peter (Woody Norman), a quiet, reserved child bullied at school. Peter begins to hear tapping on the walls of his bedroom. Then a voice speaks to him and tells him things to do. It tells him to push back against his bully. An act that gets him expelled. Now that Peter is home on expulsion with his parents (played by Lizzy Caplan and Antony Starr), the mystery begins to unravel. Peter’s mother, Carol (Lizzy Caplan), tells him a story about a girl who lived in a boarded-up house down the street and vanished one Halloween night. Hence, Peter lives such a sheltered life; he doesn't go trick-or-treating on Halloween.
Callbacks to great horror films of the past. The Shining feels all over the film, with Peter’s haircut feeling reminiscent of a young Danny Torrance. Add in the tracking shots around the house, and the character of substitute teacher Miss Devine (Cleopatra Coleman) feels similar to Scatman Cruthers. When we finally have a creature reveal what is lurking in the walls, there are moments of it crawling that call back to Linda Blair’s spider walk in The Exorcist. The atmosphere is a real treat for horror fans since the film takes place during the fall season. Unfortunately, when the film starts to pull back the curtain and reveals the true story of the monster in the walls is when the film loses steam. Cobweb wants to be Wes Craven’s People Under the Stairs, but it isn’t. Its third act gets clunky, and its dialogue for Lizzy Caplan and Antony Starr comes across as generic. Still, the film has its saving graces, with Woody Norman in the lead and Cleopatra Coleman swooping in at the right time to be of assistance in the thwarting of evil.
You've probably seen this kind of haunted house movie before. Director Samuel Bodin does a remarkable job of not showing the audience too much, though Cobweb never sticks the landing.