Wednesday, July 19, 2023

‘Cobweb’ – Director Samuel Bodin and Star Woody Norman Take You Inside Their Horror Fairy Tale [Interview]

Note: This Cobweb interview was conducted prior to the current SAG-AFTRA strike.

Samuel Bodin, the creator of Netflix horror series “Marianne,” returns to the genre with Lionsgate’s horror movie Cobweb, releasing in theaters on July 21.

Cobweb, written by Chris Thomas Devlin, follows eight-year-old Peter (Woody NormanThe Last Voyage of the Demeter) as mysterious tappings from within his bedroom walls lead him to suspect his parents (Lizzy Caplan and Antony Starr) are hiding a terrible secret.

Ahead of the film’s release, Bloody Disgusting spoke with both Samuel Bodin and Woody Norman about their gateway horror fairy tale and the scares you’ll find nestled within. 

Much like “Marianne,” Bodin injects Cobweb with a fairy tale quality, well-suited for the scary bedtime story-like nightmares its young protagonist endures. While the similarities end there between “Marianne” and Cobweb, it does highlight Bodin’s affinity for building backstories.

The filmmaker explains his approach, “I always try to attack a story as the story demands. But to be honest, I love to build a little universe, so it’s my way to do it. I take the story, and I say, ‘Okay. It’s not grounded in reality; it’s in that little universe. It’s that little house, that little town for Marianne.’ So, to be honest, it’s the same way. How I can create my little Cobweb universe and tell the story inside that, and for ‘Marianne,’ I did the same. Where is that witch? It’s that town, with that all. So, I built the universe around it, but it’s like Springfield for the Simpsons. It’s our place with our story, and I love that feeling, especially for a scary story. It’s my way to open the door. To jump in the story in a way.”

Woody Norman in Cobweb, hiding in parents shadows

In other words, Bodin found a vastly different type of horror in Cobweb, despite the fairy tale leanings. The filmmaker worked closely with screenwriter Devlin on Cobweb‘s particular style of scares. Bodin explains, “It was different because for ‘Marianne’ and my other projects, usually, I am the writer or the co-writer of it. It was the first time I dove into the script of someone else. You have your overall feeling on how you want to bring people with you and scare people. But here, there was a journey more psychological. So, I really followed Chris [Thomas Devlin]. We were, both of us, swimming in that story. So, it was step-by-step, sequence by sequence, and we know where we want it to be.

“We didn’t want to have a lot of blood in it. We wanted to be only in a fairytale way, like a bad or a weird Halloween joke. So, we don’t need so much blood; it’s more colorful and weird than bloody. It was an experience with the producers, Chris and me. Because ‘Marianne’ is a little bit more bloody and weird. I love the fact that we can say, during the shoot, that it’s a horror movie for kids. I love that contradiction.”

As for Woody Norman, Cobweb marks the actor’s first-ever role in horror, though you can expect to see him again later this summer in The Last Voyage of the Demeter. It’s a hell of an introduction to the genre; Norman leads the film as a tender-hearted boy constantly torn between whether his parents love him or whether they mean him harm.

The young actor explains how he handled the balancing act: “I think the way I did it was I let myself almost find out as Peter was finding out, by stopping myself from thinking about it. So, in the beginning, I made sure I only thought about the parent characters as parent characters. But when I was doing maybe a scene of complete distrust, I wouldn’t think of the parent characters as parents. I’d think of them as villains, just to stop myself from humanizing them in a way and make me more scared of them as well.”

Cobweb isn’t just a gateway horror film for audiences, but its star too. Norman shares how his experience made him more comfortable in horror.

“There’s a bit where I had to get a harness and get thrown across a hallway. That was really fun,” Norman recalls. “I think my main takeaway is that Cobweb was the job that got me okay with screaming on set. Because before, I was really nervous about it. Sam will remember it took a few takes for me to get comfortable doing it. But now, I’m cool with it. I was having a good time with it. Because filming, for me, is what I love doing most. Making people scared is pretty fun as well. So, putting them two together really makes it a good time.”

Cobweb rotting pumpkin patch

While Bodin referred to Cobweb as a horror movie for kids, he injects notable references for the horror kid at heart. One horror master, in particular, significantly influenced Bodin for his Halloween-set feature. “John Carpenter, obviously,” he explains. “I am French, so I don’t have the same relationship with Halloween as the US. It was always a dream or a fantasy in my head, ‘Oh, one day maybe I will do a Halloween story,’ and suddenly Cobweb is here. I connect with and reference a lot of John Carpenter’s Halloween. For me, it’s one of the greatest movies of all time. Each time I see a pumpkin, I think about Haddonfield, or that house, and that pumpkin in the opening credits.

“So, Halloween is totally in reference here. I know that Tim Burton was a reference, too, because he helped us in a way to not be in reality. So, Easter eggs, there are a lot of them. You try not to do it because if you listen to yourself, you put only references everywhere. But definitely, if there is only one, it’s Halloween from John Carpenter; it’s obvious, but it’s here.”

Cobweb releases only in theaters on July 21, 2023.

The post ‘Cobweb’ – Director Samuel Bodin and Star Woody Norman Take You Inside Their Horror Fairy Tale [Interview] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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