Spiderhead review: Great cast and concept but fails to impress

Spiderhead is a sci-fi thriller film based on a short story where prisoners agree to get experimented on in exchange for lighter sentences but don’t know what they’re getting into. The film is now streaming on Netflix.

Story

Jeff is part of a program where convicts live at the Spiderhead penitentiary and research institute and are subject to mood-altering drugs in the name of science.

The experiments are run by Steve Abnesti, a charming and friendly man who wants to maintain and relaxed and friendly relationship with all the inmates.

Jeff is also close with another inmate, Lizzie, and the two of them spend most of their time together at the facility, sharing their experiences and how their days go.

In truth, Steve owns the pharmaceutical company that manufactures these drugs and crosses all kinds of legal and moral lines by carrying out these tests.

When Jeff finds out, he tries to fight back and secure his and Lizzie’s escape while turning Steve in for his misdeeds.

Performances

Chris Hemsworth does an admirable job but isn’t suited for the role of a conniving doctor who doesn’t care about his patients. It’s less to do with his ability more rooted within his previous body of work.

Miles Teller puts in a strong if not exceptional performance and the main protagonist. You the internal strife that he goes through whenever he thinks of what he’s done and how he slowly learns to accept it and try to move on and grow.

Jurnee Smollett is the only other star with a significant presence and while she isn’t given too much to work with, the moment she confesses why she was arrested is a great showcase of her talents.

Positives

Taking a short story and developing it into a screenplay like this is a brilliant achievement and should be commended. The idea that one’s emotions can be so easily altered with a drug is a dream scenario that could go extreme in either direction.

The soundtrack of the film was a blast to listen to. The song choices were filled with peppy numbers that keep you on your feet and enhance your mood, not unlike the drugs in the film.

Negatives

The film is dialogue heavy with many scenes consisting of people just having a conversation with each other, or in most cases Hemsworths’s Abnesti talking while others listen. This doesn’t hold the audience’s attention for long and it’s easy to get distracted.

The film moves at a dull pace which means even though it runs at a little over 100 minutes, it feels like a drag at time and will have you pausing and taking a break just to stretch your legs a bit.

Verdict

Spiderhead definitely had promise and is backed by good performances but overall it just lacks the quality to be considered a must watch. The thought of giving a person joy or fear with the press of a button is a concept that can be terrifying and exhilarating at the same time but these emotions are not sufficiently evoked by the film.

Rating: 2.5/5


Also Read: Spiderhead summary and ending explained