Old houses often make noises in the night. But what if there’s something else to them? What if, as Peter finds out, there’s some dark secret being hidden by the very people meant to love and protect him? Welcome to the world of Cobweb.
This new horror is a tricksy little number, weaving a modern fairy tale whilst exploring a tale born out of gaslighting and abuse. Samuel Bodin directs with panache and style; the look of Cobweb is all long shadows and playful mise en scene. It helps that the film has a series of committed turns. Lizzy Caplan and Antony Starr played warped takes on parental figures, whilst Cleopatra Coleman leaves an impression as a caring teacher who takes an interest in Peter’s plight. But it's Woody Norman, so impressive in C’Mon C’Mon, who carries the film, even when his young character threatens to become unlikeable.
Some will find how the narrative develops frustrating. Certainly editing choices make the move to the finale feel brisk. But those willing to go along with the film can forgive a swiftness of development. Unlike Barbarian or Malignant (which the film has been compared to), it’s less that there’s a film-altering moment that changes the tone or style of proceedings, and more that secrets are slowly revealed that feel a tad ridiculous when one thinks about them.
But this reviewer can’t deny the fun had with Cobweb, thanks to Bodin’s stylish direction and some wonderfully game performances from the cast. You may well find yourself pulling at the loose threads of this tangled web on the journey home, but if you save all questions until after the gonzo finale you’ll have a great time in the cinema. And Cobweb is the perfect gateway to autumnal delights - a stylish, spooky, silly treat.