Lionsgate’s new thriller ‘Cobweb’ is the kind of live-action horror movie fans have to offer: a tight, terrifying race full of surprises but just playing with the audience – there are plenty of twists, but no gimmicks in Chris Thomas Devlin’s screenplay. Blacklisted in 2018, this story follows 8-year-old Peter (Woody Norman) as he becomes convinced that his parents (Lizzy Caplan and Anthony Star) are keeping a terrifying secret related to wiretaps he hears from inside his wall. The premise is simple, but Devlin takes it in one unpredictable direction after another, making the characterizations and situations realistic enough to keep us emotionally invested while letting the story spin in surreal and terrifying realms.
It’s a tough tone to stick to, but Devlin’s screenwriting subtlety finds its natural corollary in Samuel Bowden’s direction. Bodin, best known for his Netflix series “Marianne,” first appeared in “Cobweb,” but his grip on audiences is so complete that he’s become a horror veteran. It’s the kind of movie that takes the audience in the palm of their hands and squeezes them in for 88 minutes, and thanks in large part to Bodin’s meticulous visual design, every element of architecture and scenery is right at your fingertips. Found in a snow globe. “It’s not proven, it’s a weird little world.”
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That means a piling up of visual and aural overkill intended to keep audiences on their toes, from slightly oversized clusters and unnaturally orange pumpkins to creaky doors and sticky wallpaper. Bodin also let his young hero dictate the camera position, with low angles and compositions that obscured what the adults were doing. “I wanted to play with shadows to create that feeling you get as a child where you can hear your parents but you can’t always see them or understand what they’re doing,” Bowden said. “I thought a lot about Danny in The Shining and what [Jennifer Kent] Captured in ‘The Babadook’ about childhood”.
Boudin, who is French, embraced the strangeness of American culture that you see through his eyes. “It’s a Halloween movie, but Halloween doesn’t hold the same place in my head and heart that you do,” Bowden said. “I see it through movies, through stories, but I don’t have personal experience with it. So, if I’m honest with myself, I know it’s not going to be close to being Halloween in the States because I don’t know that fact. So let’s build something—and if we’re going to build a pumpkin patch, let’s make it a pumpkin patch with little kids dressed up in blue versus bright orange. Let’s put a lot of color everywhere and not make it a dark movie.”
Bowden found that editing the film was where he was really able to create tension – and where he faced his biggest challenges. Without giving too much away, large portions of “Spider’s Web” involve interactions between two characters, one of whom is unseen, though this often gave Bodin more options than he needed to. “You can get this character behind a wall to say whatever you want, and that can be a trap,” he said. “You tell yourself you can always find another way to do something in post-production. Bodin has tried to avoid over-reliance on ‘mail-fix’, instead finding discipline in deciding when and how to release information to the public.” For me, it’s like telling a story around a campfire. Every time I shoot, I try to convince everyone that they are having the same nightmare the same way. »
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