7 January 2003 | ProperCharlie
Psychosis is not a healthy coping strategy
Spider is a wonderful entry into the Cronenberg cannon. I strikes me as Cronenberg trying to do a Ken Loachesque style movie with all of his usual hard philosophical questioning, sniping at your assumptions of what reality really is.
The overwhelming impression I was left with was the sheer creepiness of the film, highly appropriate in a film about a Spider. This impression is built up with wonderful cold and dismal sets and cinematography and a relentless slow pace that draws you in to the inevitably horrifying conclusion. There is always an undertone of the horrors that have driven the protagonist to his fate though you never really see that underlying terror. You almost feel as if his psychotic reaction to events was almost the only thing he could have done. The acting is first class all round I feel it would be unfair to single out any one of the stunning performances.
This film is really about growing up and how you cope with it. Everyone has to go through it and most seem to emerge the other side with only minor ticks and deviancies. Some people however are crushed by the terror of the things that come to light between the ages of 6 and 17 and this is the perfect illustration of this. This could have been you. More worryingly, if something really bad happens to you, this still could be you.
Are you so sure that everything you remember happening in your childhood really happened? Those little anecdotes you trot out when you're with friends? Are those memories coloured by how you saw the world when you were that age? What are childhood experiences are you hiding from yourself? In a sense these are all very Freudian concepts given life in a film that has as it's central plot a case of Oedipus twisted way beyond it's classical borders.
Some have found this boring, I didn't. I can understand that the slow pace and, for Cronenberg, the simplicity of the storyline might lead one to not engage with the film especially if you find the entire concept of mental illness alien. However, that feeling of wanting to run away from this film as fast as possible whilst screaming is one that should really recommend it to you in the strongest possible terms. Not all horror is jumps and monsters, some is atmosphere and the ordinary. And that's the scariest sort.