Chris Hemsworth, better known to the world as the Norse God Thor, plays a different kind of almighty in the 2022 Netflix film ‘Spiderhead’. Directed by Joseph Kosinski and based on a short story by George Saunders, the plot is set in a remote prison facility, where drug trials are conducted by a certain Mr Abnesti (Chris) on convicted felons who volunteered to be test subjects in exchange of shortened sentences.
Both sci-fi and dystopian in nature, ‘Spiderhead’ explores the dark side of clinical trials with a cold gaze. Chris Hemsworth as Abnesti is a puppet-master, the man who pulls all the strings, deciding who’d get how much of what drug on a given day. Miles Teller plays Jeff, a convicted felon, who begins to question Abnesti’s motives when he is made the test subject for a new ‘love’ drug, a dosage generates instant feelings of passion when administered. Another drug called ‘Darkenfloxx’ triggers instant pain, paranoia, to the point of subjects wanting to kill themselves. The lines of morality are thus blurred and the story begs the question – is it okay to treat felons like lab rats?
A rusted nameplate outside the facility reads ‘Spiderhead’, although the inner premises of this special prison is ridiculously swanky, modern and immaculately maintained. For a movie dealing with dark themes, the cinematography is aesthetically pleasing, almost clinically/eerily so. There are some stunning aerial shots of the remote island where the facility is located. And then there’s the piercing blue eyes of Mr Hemsworth that adds quite the visual value to the story. Nothing is as interesting as the sparsely used ‘gorgeous villain’ trope, provided the actor can pull it off. And Chris does.
In-fact, the story isn’t very meaty, but it’s gritty performances by Miles Teller and Chris Hemsworth that save ‘Spiderhead’ from being completely fatiguing. They make a unusual pair that fortunately clicks onscreen. Their mildly entertaining bromance apart, the pace of the movie is choppy and things get slow in parts. But a carefully picked soundtrack heightens or lightens up the mood the right way, keeping things interesting through the runtime. So, the makers of ‘Spiderhead’ get their score right, because the wrong kind of accompanying music can really kill a scene.
The big twist towards the end is clever enough, yet feels underwhelming. On the bright side, some scenes that didn’t make sense earlier on, fall into place.
It’s a 6.5/10 from me.
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Listen to Ep 78 – ‘Spiderhead’ Recapped & Ending Explained