Through split reviews, poor advertising, and the most abysmal release date (mid-July and the same weekend as Barbenheimer), “Cobweb” was forgotten before anyone even got the chance to watch it. This is a cinematic tragedy rivaling the “Creep” series never receiving a theatrical release. “Cobweb” is one of the weirdest and most creative horror movies I have seen this year and I truly hope it gets discovered by more audiences.
“Cobweb” is the story of a little boy named Peter who is being bombarded by evil. Every child at his school is a hyperactive sociopath, his parents, reminiscent of “Parents,” are hiding some sinister secret and now there’s a little girl in his walls with a bloodlust. His only saving grace is his substitute teacher who may be trying to help out Peter but is not the most effective mandated reporter.
This relatively short movie has two distinct parts, the first hour and the final 20 minutes. Both parts are wonderful pieces of horror filmmaking but for different reasons. The first half is all about slow quiet buildup. The movie begins by following a depressed and bullied Peter through his valid fear of the dark and builds into an extremely creepy murder mystery, with hidden doorways, terrible parenting choices and Antony Starr (Homelander in “The Boys”) being just so unsettling. This section of the movie is consistently tense and every twist and turn caught me completely off guard.
The second part of the movie, where many reviewers seemed to have turned against it, is the conclusion of this substantial build-up. Four storylines all converge in fast-paced, gory, death-filled weirdness. I will concede the pacing of these 20 minutes could have been improved. Though the movie is less than 90 minutes the second part overstays its welcome, if only because certain scenes feel like they are leading to an ending, but the sequence just keeps going. Upon a second watch-through, with more context of where the plot is leading, this issue would certainly be lessened. On top of that, what is achieved in these 20 minutes, through all of the gore and the false endings and nonstop movement, not just of the characters but of the camera, is a viscerally exciting ending that I cannot stop thinking about.
All throughout this movie, the vibes, as defined through the set dressing and scene setting, are immaculate. This movie is deeply embedded with Halloween spirit—which makes the July release date even more confounding. The movie takes place during the week before Halloween and comes to a head on Halloween night. The kidnapping that occurred on Peter’s street years before, the catalyst for much of the movie, occurred as a result of trick-‘r-treating. Peter’s house looks like a haunted house and his backyard is literally a pumpkin farm, just brimming with beautiful orange gourds. “Cobweb” is for Halloween what “Die Hard” is for Christmas. Not particularly related at a plot level but intrinsically linked.
Another feature of “Cobweb” that really set the atmosphere was its ultra-stylized cinematography. Unnaturally large rooms, exaggerated lighting, intimidating shadows projected onto high walls. All together this style created the perfect feeling of a child overwhelmed and confused. Nothing feels comfortable, safe or familiar, giving the audience the same sense of unease as our young vulnerable protagonist.
One of the most common complaints I saw directed at “Cobweb” was that it is just another stereotypical monster in the walls movie. I take great issue with these claims. First of all, it isn’t exactly a massive genre. “Cobweb” is not the first movie to have a person or creature hiding in the walls of a family’s home, but this is a sub-genre with plenty of ideas still to be explored, and I believe “Cobweb” does so. There is also so much to this movie outside of the something living in the walls. Peter’s school life and the weirdness surrounding his parents both take up more of the movie’s runtime. Nothing about “Cobweb” is stereotypical and anyone claiming it is were clearly watching the movie wrong.
I would not call “Cobweb” a Halloween movie for the masses, and it certainly requires a certain atmosphere to be fully enjoyed, but if you enjoy horror movies of any kind you should give it a try. Please. I am genuinely angry and sad because of how few people, and more importantly how few people with accurate opinions, have watched this movie.