Cobweb15¦ blu-ray, DVD
Although film is obviously a form of entertainment, there’s no denying that it is an industry, one where making profit is king.
One way the industry has utilised heavily in recent years as an on-going cash cow is the franchise, with one genre leading the way on this front – horror.
Coming up with an original idea is only the start, but if you create a character that appears again and again, then you’re onto a winner. And although the likes of Freddie, Jason and Michael Myers may be screen icons, where they have made a true killing is at the box office.
An original idea then is a rare beast indeed, but even rarer is a horror film that can make an impact right out of the gate. Hoping to do just that is Cobweb.
There’s nothing that can spoil your schooling experience quite like bullying, and for eight-year-old Peter (Woody Norman) he’s having a tough time at school. Normally though, you can get some solace when you go home, but not Peter, as his mom (Lizzy Caplan) and dad (Antony Starr) are more than a little on the strange side.
As if he wasn’t going through enough, Peter starts to hear a voice in his bedroom late at night, seemingly coming from the other side of his bedroom wall. His parents end up finding out, and aren’t as supportive as you might think; in fact his dad tells him a story of how a child went missing at Halloween – which is only a week away – and how she was never found. Way to go dad.
But hearing them on a regular basis, Peter is convinced that there is someone back there, trapped, and despite warnings from his parents, he’s keen to uncover the truth behind the wall.
If you’re going to make a directorial debut some genres are more forgiving than others, sadly for Samuel Bodin, horror isn’t one of them. His film is one that suffers from a number of issues, but one of the main ones being a sense of identity – or lack of. There’s a lot going on here, much of it just irritating noise, that just gets in the way.
Take the locale for instance, which for the most part, is the family home. The art department were clearly briefed in creating a generic haunted house look, the kind which neighbours will purposefully cross the road to avoid walking past. It would make a lovely holiday home for the Addams family, say, but for a modern young family, it’s just overboard.
Then you have the parents, who come across as victims of body snatchers, with no rhyme or reason as to why they behave so oddly.
Credit has to go to young Norman, who does extremely well playing normal in very testing, anything-but-normal scenario. He does what it is requested of him, and he nails it, playing the vulnerable victim throughout.
And then you have the ‘thing’ behind the walls itself. Not only is the story behind it being there underwhelming, but visually it disappoints too; it looks like a homage to John Carpenter’s classic 1982 The Thing, but lacking any real identity of its own just a lot of hair, accompanied by a voice sounding like an estranged sister of Patty and Selma Bouvier.
It’s not clear if the team behind it had a vision of creating a franchise from this or not, but it’s safe to say that the girl character here is not the way to go about it. And they absolutely should have chosen a different time of year – they really should know that a killer on the loose on Halloween has already been taken.
And then there are just rookie mistakes, where characters have the choice to phone for help from a safe distance, or put themselves in a great deal of harm completely unnecessarily. Or one character is faced with a dead body for possibly the very first time of their life, and processes it with remarkable calm, which in real life, you would figure would not happen, especially being, you know, a child.
Bodin does a little better with creating an atmosphere, and shooting around the house, even if he does rely on some obtuse camera angles at times, that offers more in the way of promise than it actually delivers.
So although Cobweb may well be a new IP, sadly there’s nothing original here, with what is essentially a cobbled together wonky Frankenstein’s monster of a film.
It’s a film that has no focus, and direction, with a monster that not only lacks a decent back story – certainly one where she physically comes to being, at any rate, with some special abilities that she just has without any reasoning as to how and why – as well as being introduced far too late, making the film way too top heavy at its finale.
This then should be treated in the same way that someone who suffers from arachnophobia might when confronted by a spider – best just avoid.