Search - Spider on DVD

Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne
Director: David Cronenberg
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
R     2003     1hr 38min

Spider has been allowed a second chance at life after a long stay in a mental institution and sent to a halfway house under the stern watch of Mrs. Ilkenson. Revisiting his old neighborhood reawakens memories of where his ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne
Director: David Cronenberg
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 07/29/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 38min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 10/10/2023...
Really weird and painful to watch. Sadly, it is likely based on true events.
Jefferson N. from BLAIRSVILLE, GA
Reviewed on 10/2/2012...
Spider is the story of a man who has been under the care of a mental institution who is realeased to a halfway house to start his life anew. But the halfway house is in his old hometown and he begins to relive his past...little by little...and begins a maddening trip to the moment that drove him over the edge the first time.

This is an extremely atmospheric film by director David Cronenberg that studies madness and lets us view it from the perspective of the afflicted. You are held in the web as the young man relives his past...and when the spider finally clamps down in the final moments, you will be left completely shocked. Or at least I was. This movie did not go where I was expecting at all.

If you're a fan of surreal suspense, trippy films, or Cronenberg and his mad ouevre in general, check out this masterpiece of mental horror.
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jane L. from MEDWAY, OH
Reviewed on 10/3/2010...
A disturbing film ....... the portrait of a schizophrenic is chilling and the denoument is totally unexpected.....fine performances are given by a stellar cast.....
3 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Larry L. Looney | Austin, Texas USA | 09/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"...and that takes absolutely NOTHING away from the stunning contributions from everyone involved in this project. As soon as I read Patrick McGrath's incredible novel a few years ago, I knew I had discovered something wonderfully unique - then I read that there were plans for a film, with McGrath writing the screenplay - and when the pieces began to fall into place (Ralph Fiennes in the title role, along with Miranda Richardson and Lynn Redgrave, with David Cronenberg directing) I knew that the film would be something very special indeed. I was almost afraid to see it when it appeared in theatres (delayed for months in the US after its European release, evidently to keep it from being confused with SPIDER-MAN) - I feared that I had built up my expectations to a degree that they could not be fulfilled. I needn't have worried - the film floored me completely, from the performances by the great actors named above, to Cronenberg's masterful direction, to the perfect set design, Howard Shore's dead-on score, everything. This is as perfect an adaptation as a film could be. I couldn't wait for the DVD to come out, so I could view the film and have the ability to stop it and run it back in order to absorb all of its nuances.It's also a difficult review to write - the plot twists are so delicious, and so perfectly rendered in the film, but to reveal too much about them would spoil it for any potential viewers. I'll try my best not to do that - I don't want to deprive anyone of the full effect. I have to agree wholeheartedly with another reviewer below when he states that `Hitchcock would have killed' to direct this story, and that it quite possibly surpasses anything that Hitchcock ever did (how many contemporary films could you say THAT about, and mean it...?).According to Cronenberg's commentary on the DVD, when the script was sent to him, Ralph Fiennes had already decided that he wanted to play the part. Cronenberg stated `...two pages into the script, I knew that no one else could do it'. Plagued with financing difficulties - the director said that the financing actually had to be acquired a second time, after some sources backed out - it's a wonder the film was made at all. The cast and the director deferred their salaries, making it possible - and turning the project into a true labor of love. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their dedication and sacrifice.`Spider' is Dennis Cleg - a man just released from a mental asylum to live in a halfway house in London's East End, very near his childhood neighborhood. Fiennes slips into the role completely - he pulls every ounce of the character's fiber out of the script, and added some touches of his own (the constant muttering was his idea) to round it out perfectly. Spider had a troubled childhood - as is evident from the memories that haunt him. The question is, which ones are real and which ones are manufactured...? As the story progresses, the web gets more and more intricate. Cronenberg films Spider in various environments - the halfway house day room, as well as his private room; on the streets in his neighborhood; in a local café, as well as the pub his dad used to frequent. All of these places trigger memories in him. He sees the characters from his past - his dad and mum, the `cheap tart' Yvonne - appear before him as if it were yesterday again. We see the adult Spider looking in through the kitchen window of his boyhood home, watching his mum and dad and himself as a child having dinner. He eavesdrops on their conversations, mumbling lines from each character before they speak them. Each place that he goes caused more doors of his memory to open - he tries desperately to put the pieces together, and it's a painful struggle, very difficult to watch.I can't stress enough how mesmerizing Ralph Fiennes is in this role - watching him, it's very easy to completely forget that it's an actor playing a part. Miranda Richardson is stunning in multiple roles - she plays Spider's mum, as well as the tart Yvonne...and she makes an appearance, briefly, as a third character (watch for it!). Lynn Redgrave has long been admired as a masterful actor - she brings the perfect combination of authority and coldness to her portrayal of Mrs Wilkinson, with a dash of cruelty and seductiveness thrown in. The subtleties she invokes are amazing. Gabriel Byrne does a very nice job indeed in a difficult role as Spider's dad - he has to portray his character both as he is and as he is imagined and remembered, and he does it with a naturalness that betrays the daunting task. Bradley Hall, the young actor who portrays Spider as a child, combines loneliness, vulnerability, desperation, fear and an aching need to understand what is going on in his family and his world - amazing work from one so young. John Neville is very effective as Spider's fellow halfway house dweller Terrence - `...we're not to be trusted, are we, Terrence...?' muses Mrs Wilkinson when she introduces the two. Terrence speaks a line that is very evocative of the isolation and pain felt by victims of schizophrenia, when he tells Spider, `'s a loud world.'I can't say enough about this incredible film - but I know I don't want to inadvertently give too much away, and I know I'm approaching my word-count limit. Pass it by at your peril - the DVD is beautifully rendered, with great bonus material - but should you ever get the chance, see this one on the big screen. It wasn't a box-office smash - and the public once again has ignored a masterpiece."
A disturbing and fascinating journey into mental illness
Ronald Scheer | Los Angeles | 08/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This movie is a strange mood piece with a tremendous performance by Ralph Fiennes as a man who's been released from a mental institution and has returned to the London neighborhood where he grew up. The nature of his illness is deliberately unclear. We simply watch as familiar surroundings trigger disturbing memories of his boyhood, and through them we slowly piece together his story.The mood is set by a long, long tracking shot as the movie begins, as passengers disembark from a train in a large London terminal. The camera seems to be searching through this throng for someone in particular, and after what seems like an eternity, Fiennes as Spider emerges painfully and awkwardly onto the platform with a beat-up suitcase. And we are plunged from a scene of everyday activity into his world, which is far, far removed from the everyday and ordinary.There's a twilight-zone kind of ambiance in the movie, as the camera shows us interiors and exteriors that are typically empty of furnishings and people. Street scenes, for instance, have no passing traffic, no pedestrians, not even cars parked at curbs. The lighting is often like stage lighting, coming from unexpected sources and providing an eerie flatness. The soundtrack alternates between strange rumbling noises, a small group of strings experimenting with mournful dissonance, and a lovely old-fashioned ballad that Spider remembers from childhood. The supporting actors are wonderful, as they waver in our perception between what their characters really are and how they appear to Spider. Miranda Richardson has the task of playing three different characters, each as Spider sees them. Gabriel Byrne and Lynne Redgrave in brief scenes give richly nuanced performances. As with many indie movies, the commentary and other features on the DVD provide further interesting insights.This is not a movie for an audience looking for entertainment. It is a psychological study and something of a mystery, as we make what sense we can of what the movie slowly reveals of its central character. I recommend it to anyone fascinated by the darker sides of the human psyche, the puzzle of mental illness, and the strange ways that the everyday world can be transformed by a troubled and isolated point of view."
Realistic representation of madness.
C. Middleton | Australia | 11/01/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a disturbing film because its depiction of madness conveys an astonishing realism. Director, David Cronenberg, (Crash, Naked Lunch and The Fly) has managed to merge the leading character's disquieting mind with the audience. This is no small task considering the subject matter, and the fact that the protagonist is suffering from intense delusions concerning his past. We see through the eyes of Spider - the memories of his childhood, though as the tale unfolds, we begin to distrust his memories and see that they blend with fantasy. The film is a study on the mechanics of repression, and the psychological notion that memory cannot be trusted. Spider (Ralph Fiennes) arrives at a halfway house somewhere in London. Mrs Wilkinson, (Lynne Redgrave) meets him at the door. This woman is everything you would expect from a proprietor of a house for newly released mental patients. It is here that we begin to learn of Spider's childhood: his relationship with his mother and father, which is the key to the cause of his present condition. Miranda Richardson plays three different roles in the film - Spider's mother, the prostitute and later, the proprietor of the halfway house. The mother and the prostitute are entirely different, but the proprietor is an impressive blending of all three. As we learn more about Spider's childhood, we really don't know what to make of his father (Gabriel Burne) he an abusive man, an adulterer and drunk or merely a man doing his best to cope with an unhappy marriage? Gabriel Burne admitted that this was one of the hardest roles he's had to do, because he had to play the character on a fine line, so as not to give anything away to the audience. When you see the end of the film, you'll agree that he succeeded in his intended performance. David Cronenberg is well known for his fascination with the darker more disturbing aspect of the human mind. He's one of those unique directors that will capture the right atmosphere for the subject under study; in this case, madness is realistically represented and seems to exude that strange feeling of the uncanny. A good example is the scene where Spider lays in the bathtub in the foetus position, blankly gazing into space. This is a disturbing image of a lost soul in the throes of passive insanity. I would not say that this picture is an enjoyable one, but it is certainly an intriguing journey into a troubled mind, attempting to come to terms with his past and the truth."