Is one actor a ok purpose to look at a horror film? That call is between you and the Elder Gods, however Cobweb, the brand new horror movie out this weekend hoping to nab anybody not caught up in Barbenheimer mania, makes a fairly robust case for The Boys’ Antony Starr as a horror film icon — till it abandons him for one thing much less scary.
Cobweb follows Peter (Woody Norman), a troubled younger boy whose life reads so much like the beginning of a tragic fairy story. He lives together with his dad and mom, Mark (Starr, The Boys’ Homelander) and Carol (Lizzy Caplan), in an enormous previous home that appears devoid of numerous the fashionable pleasures his pals in all probability take pleasure in. He doesn’t actually exit, watch TV, or play video video games. His dad and mom maintain a pumpkin patch, which appears to be the one factor they do collectively. And when Peter is in bother, they lock him within the basement.
The household on the middle of Cobweb initially looks like the thriller the movie is constructed round, particularly when Peter begins listening to a voice talking to him from his bed room partitions. Peter befriends the voice, and learns that there could also be issues about his dad and mom he doesn’t know. For chunk of Cobweb’s 90-minute run time, it looks like it’s constructing to a revelation about them. Sadly, the movie’s most compelling questions don’t ever get answered.
In its third act, Cobweb pivots to a different form of horror completely, abruptly buying and selling the palpable concern of a kid whose dad and mom could also be secretly sinister for a goofier monster film. As inelegant as that transition is, it isn’t unwelcome. The movie’s script, stuffed with apparent cues and horrible grade-schooler dialogue the place schoolyard bullies threaten Peter like they’re fellow inmates in gen pop, merely can’t help the home dread within the first two-thirds of the film.
But it isn’t arduous to think about a model of the movie that does nail this, largely off the energy of Antony Starr’s efficiency as Mark, and Woody Norman’s wide-eyed innocence reverse him. As Mark, Starr brings the form of heat menace he wields so effectively as Homelander to a quieter setting, and it interprets extremely effectively. Starr excels at portraying disturbed males who’ve discovered to put on normalcy like a masks, although his characters generally overlook to correctly safe it. So it’s a disgrace that Cobweb isn’t significantly involved together with his character — or Lizzy Caplan’s, for that matter.
These twin performances are all Cobweb actually has going for it, as first-time characteristic director Samuel Bodin makes aesthetic selections that largely appear geared towards making a bit bit of cash go a good distance, with none sense of favor. Bodin makes an attempt to invoke dread with lengthy pictures of the movie’s few distinctive set parts — the aforementioned pumpkin patch, or an previous grandfather clock and icebox that every cover a hidden passage — however he doesn’t do a lot to render these photos as one thing highly effective or sinister. It’s as if Cobweb is about in a haunted home the place nothing truly occurred way back, even because it hides a woman’s voice in its partitions.
When Cobweb pivots to a monster film for its finale — and a bafflingly abrupt ending — it ditches these performances in favor of a creature that highlights the movie’s limitations. A monster is scary, positive. But it surely’s a lot scarier to see an actor like Starr enter a room with a toddler and really feel a daunting sense of risk. With him within the combine, something would possibly occur subsequent — even when he’s simply smiling and pulling his son in for a hug.
Cobweb will premiere in theaters in a restricted launch on July 21.