Spiderhead follows the story of Steve Abnesti as he tries to create emotion-controlling drugs. This sounds weird already, and it kind of is, but in the enjoyable, cringe as you watch type of way. I thought Miles Teller, as Jeff, was really good, and Chris Hemsworth and Mark Paguio worked well together. Not the movie I had expected, but a change of pace nonetheless.
Spiderhead is a well made movie worth watching. The plot is very slim at times and hard to follow, but our characters hold the piece together. The cinematography makes scenes feel unique and realistic, even if it is a dystopian world.
Who Should Watch Spiderhead?
If I’m being honest, only a select group of people. If you are coming to this review thinking you should watch this because Chris Hemsworth is in it and you loved him in Thor, can’t believe we haven’t reviewed that yet, or you loved Miles Teller in Top Gun Maverick, this one I have review, you are in for a surprise. There are no shirtless slo-mo shots, and a lot more gut-wrenching moments.
The movie gets hot and heavy very early on, although after about 25 minutes, the sexual stuff pretty much dies off. The world that is Spiderhead is very dark and intentional. Everything happens for a reason, and we don’t shy away from uncomfortable topics. The testing of emotion controlling drugs already sounds a wee bit intense, and the movie takes the emotional thriller a little bit further.
If you frighten easily, or don’t want to see Chris Hemsworth in a whole new role, which he does quite well, I’d steer clear of this movie.
Why should I watch Spiderhead?
My big three for Spiderhead come down to characters, characters, and some cool sci-fi on the realistic side. The plot is fairly wishy-washy, and honestly kind of slow. The entire first act is developing our characters into the important role pieces they are later in the film that really make the ending pop. It wasn’t the greatest start to a movie, but at an hour and 46 minutes total runtime, the slog didn’t last that long.
I really thought our characters worked well together like co-workers do. Verlaine and Abnesti work well in front of the inmates, but not everything is hunky-dory. Probably the best part about of characters is that everyone is hiding something. We have a bunch of prison inmate locked up for a long, long time, two scientists that got permission to take a bunch of inmates and run some really sketchy tests, and a testing committee that seems to be on board with human trials.
It’s an uncomfortable movie the entire way through, I felt like I was waiting and waiting for the other shoe to drop. I loved it though. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen and that was my favourite part. It was messy, violent at times, gross, and off-putting, but I couldn’t look away or turn it off. I was as much a captive for 2 hours as Jeff as.
Why you shouldn’t watch Spiderhead:
There’s really just two big reasons here. The first is if you don’t enjoy the genre. That goes without saying for all movies, but this one can be a little deceiving based on the cast. Give the trailer a watch, but be aware that most “R” rated movies don’t give away the true depth of the gnarly in the trailers.
The second is the plot. If you need fast-paced, action filled, popcorn movies, this going to be a bad one. You need a little bit of patience, and the ability to appreciate good character interactions. It isn’t perfect, but everyone of our major characters in a small cast prove to be important. There are a lot of little hints and details that make Spiderhead a lot like a puzzle waiting to be solved.
The only unfortunate part about it being a puzzle is it is kinda easy to solve. I saw the ending coming from a few kilometres away, although that doesn’t usually ruin a movie for me. The uncertainty in my prediction and the joy we get from being right made the ending entertaining anyways. The second shoe does in fact drop, but it wasn’t as surprising as I had expected.
**THIS MIGHT GET A LITTLE BIT SPOILER-FRIENDLY***
How far would you go to fix human nature?
The tagline of Spiderhead actually represents the movie better than most of them. As with many dystopia worlds, we get to see and experience something on the brink of reality that comes off as far-fetched, but really isn’t that far off. The idea of emotion-manipulating drugs is nothing new, and some illegal substances have the effect already. The tagline, and the entire movie, pose the large question that every answers differently. Jeff believes that human nature is exactly what makes us human and that people can change without drugs or chemicals. Abnesti on the other hand, believes that human nature is a disease, one he can cure with the correct combination of chemicals.
In theory, they both partially right, and this where Mark Pagiuo’s character, Verlaine, comes into play. While he is a scientist and believes things can and should be correct, he also believes there is a line. A line between erasing what makes us human and correcting blunders from within. These stark differences in opinion and mindset represent a lot of people today in a lot of different issues. The contrast between our characters creates a realistic dynamic where everyone is partially hiding how much they believe in their cause to keep up appearances. It also leads to our characters believe they agree a lot more than they actually do.
**OKAY, SPOILERS OVER***
Final Thoughts on Spiderhead
Spiderhead is one of Netflix’s better movies to date. It’s a little bit messy, and a little bit nasty, but it also gets you thinking. The large question behind the movie is more complex than meets the eye, and the writers do a wonderful job of putting you in the characters shoes. Spiderhead gets you thinking about how you would react in different situations, and different people will view our characters in different ways. Film is and always will be about conjuring thoughts and captivating an audience, something Spiderhead does quite well.