Spider (2002 film)

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Spider film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Cronenberg
Produced by David Cronenberg
Samuel Hadida
Catherine Bailey
Screenplay by Patrick McGrath
Based on Spider
by Patrick McGrath
Starring Ralph Fiennes
Miranda Richardson
Gabriel Byrne
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Peter Suschitzky
Edited by Ronald Sanders
Catherine Bailey Ltd.
Grosvenor Park Productions
Davis Films
Metropolitan Films
Redbus Pictures
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
Release date
  • 13 December 2002 (2002-12-13) (CAN)
  • 3 January 2003 (2003-01-03) (UK)
  • 28 February 2003 (2003-02-28) (US)
Running time
98 minutes[1]
Country Canada
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $10 million
Box office $5,808,941

Spider is a 2002 Canadian/British psychological thriller-drama film produced and directed by David Cronenberg and based on the novel of the same name by Patrick McGrath, who also wrote the screenplay.

The film premiered at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival[2] and enjoyed some media buzz; however, it was released in only a few cinemas at the year's end by distributor Sony Pictures Classics. Nonetheless, the film enjoyed much acclaim by critics and especially by Cronenberg enthusiasts. The film garnered a Best Director award at the Canadian Genie Awards. The stars of the film, Ralph Fiennes and particularly Miranda Richardson, received several awards for their work in the film.


Spider is the story of Dennis Cleg, a man who is given a room in a halfway house catering to mentally disturbed persons. Cleg has just been released from a mental institution and in his new abode starts piecing together or recreating in his memory an apparently fateful childhood event.

He roams the nearby derelict urban area and the local canal, and starts to relive or visualize a period of his childhood in 1950s London with his mother and father. A shift takes place in the child's psyche when he witnesses his mother groping with his father in the garden and, subsequently, when he sees his mother in a silky night gown she wore for his father.

The son, as a grown man, seems to recreate in his memory the buildup to his father's murder of his mother with the passive support of a prostitute he is involved with, who then moves into the house and is presented as his mother. The young son then kills the mistress by gassing her in the kitchen, although the final shot appears to show his true mother lying dead so we are left to wonder whether she really was his mother and the prostitute was just a fantasy. After that memory he sneaks late one night to the landlady's room and appears ready to kill her, whom he sees alternatively as the mistress, his mother and the landlady, but backs away after she says, "What have you done Mr. Cleg?" He is taken back to the asylum.



During a Q&A session at the Kodak Lecture Series in May 2005, Cronenberg revealed that neither he, nor Fiennes, nor Richardson, nor the producers received any sort of salary during the shooting of the film. All chose to waive their salaries, so the money could be used to bankroll the under-funded production.

Reception [edit]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 85% based on reviews from 130 critics.[3] On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 83 out of 100, based on 35 reviews.[4]Genie Awards for Best Director; TIFF – Best Canadian Feature; and TFCA – Best Canadian Film.

It was mentioned in the 2002 Sight & Sound Poll by Amy Taubin, who ranked it at 10th.[5]


  1. ^ "SPIDER (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2002-07-16. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Spider". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  3. ^ "Spider". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  4. ^ "Spider (2002): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  5. ^ BFI | Sight & Sound | Top Ten Poll 2002 - How the directors and critics voted

External links[edit]