Directed by Samuel Bodin, ‘Cobweb’ is a gripping tale of horror and mystery that focuses on Peter, an 8-year-old boy who is contacted by a voice from behind the walls of his room. His parents, however, ignore the incident, labeling it a part of the boy’s imagination. However, one particular day, the voice reveals her true identity and all hell breaks loose. The family’s long-hidden dark past is then exposed, and a series of violence and bloodshed follows.
Meanwhile, the only person who seems to be concerned about Peter is a substitute teacher at his school, Miss Devine, who somehow also gets entangled in the mess. The film’s atmospheric tension is elevated by the compelling performances of a talented cast comprising Lizzy Caplan, Antony Starr, Cleopatra Coleman, and Woody Norman. Along with that, the edgy narrative and unsettling incidents must naturally make many wonder if the story of ‘Cobweb’ is rooted in reality. In case you’re curious about the same, we’ve got your back. Let’s find out!
Is Cobweb a True Story?
No, ‘Cobweb’ is not based on a true story. The film is entirely the brainchild of screenwriter Chris Thomas Devlin. French director Samuel Bodin — who is the driving force behind the creation of the 2019 French-language horror series ‘Marianne’ — decided to helm the film after coming across the script by Devlin in the 2018 Black List, which features some of the most liked screenplays that are yet to be produced. Although ‘Cobweb’ is not based on any real-life event, it does touch upon themes that are very relevant in the real world. The film is packaged as a horror-thriller, but it largely focuses on the issues of child abuse, negligence, and trauma.
In an interview with Screen Rant, director Bodin also opened up about what motivated him to take up Devlin’s script for his feature film debut. “I read some scripts, and when Chris Thomas Devlin’s script came to me, I read it, and I really loved it. It’s really hard to write something simple, and what I love in Chris Thomas Devlin’s script, is that it was simple and twisted. And so I said, ‘Oh my god, I see something here. Maybe I can find a way to tell that story.’ I loved the tone he used. I fell in love with the script. It was really sad. That was the thing,” Bodin revealed.
In the film, we see how Sarah, who was born differently, is not accepted by her parents Carol and Mark. She is treated like a monster and is kept in a pit full of spiders and cobwebs. The abuse that she suffered all the years eventually shows its repercussions. On the other hand, Peter, who is shy and introverted, often feels lonely due to negligence on his parents’ part. The couple seldom shows any interest in helping their child cope with loneliness. Instead, he, too, is grounded in a dark chamber after being expelled from school.
The final scene heavily touches upon the concept of trauma, describing how the guilt is never going to leave Peter. In the same interview, the filmmaker talked about how the film addresses the issue of child abuse. He said, “I really think that we can do that in horror. Cobweb talks about child abuse. It’s why I wanted the movie not to be grounded. I wanted the movie to be a little bit next to the reality—like a Grimm brothers tale. So you can talk about that problem and that issue without feeling rejected by a horror movie. You feel the vital sense of the problem in the same way. And I love that.”
Lizzy Caplan, who portrays Carol, also stated in an interview that the film succulently blends a taut horror tale with abuse and familial trauma, adding that she is open to working in more horror films that send a message to society. Interestingly, Bodin credits the creations of iconic filmmakers such as John Carpenter, Sergio Leone, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Sam Raimi and Stanley Kubrick as having cast a major influence on his work.
In conversation with Bleeding Cool, the director shared, “When you see Cobweb, you can’t miss the influence from Stanley Kubrick’s classic ‘The Shining,’ which is a movie I see every three months [laughs]. It is part of my skin.” Taking the aforementioned points into consideration, we conclude that while ‘Cobweb’ is a complete work of fiction, the deep-seated issues it addresses do have a huge impact on the real world, and that is what makes it a memorable watch.
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