Combustible Celluloid
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With: Woody Norman, Lizzy Caplan, Antony Starr, Cleopatra Coleman
Written by: Chris Thomas Devlin
Directed by: Samuel Bodin
MPAA Rating: R for horror violence and some language
Running Time: 88
Date: 07/21/2023

Cobweb (2023)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Right Tangle

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Managing just one or two genuinely creepy/cool horror moments, this disappointing movie ultimately relies too heavily on familiar visuals and themes from many other chillers, and ends with a whimper.

Young Peter (Woody Norman) is bullied at school, and, at home, his parents — Carol (Lizzy Caplan) and Mark (Antony Starr) — act very strangely. At night, he hears taps coming from inside the wall, but whenever he tries to tell his parents, he's informed that he's just been dreaming, or that the house is creaking. Only a substitute teacher, Miss Devine (Cleopatra Coleman) listens to him.

One night a voice speaks to him, claiming to be his sister. The voice encourages Peter to stand up to the bully and not to listen to his parents, that they are evil. One night, Peter finds the door to his sister's prison and lets her out. But she's not quite what he was expecting.

Produced by — of all people — Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Cobweb is the directing debut of Samuel Bodin and the second screenplay by Chris Thomas Devlin, whose debut was the Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot. Together they gleefully steal classic moments from Halloween, including a bully pushing a boy who is carrying a pumpkin. Even the town is called "Holdenfield," which is a little too close to "Haddonfield."

And their monster, a skittering, stringy-haired thing that can climb walls, recalls the girls from The Ring and The Grudge, as well as various others. But even without these elements, the movie makes no sense. The parents act strange for virtually no reason, only drawing attention to the fact that they are hiding something, rather than playing it cool. And, while Coleman's substitute teacher Miss Devine is a welcome addition, it's not logical that she would keep showing up at Peter's house, overstepping her bounds. Finally, putting children in peril in such a careless movie leaves Cobweb off with a sour taste.

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