Spiderhead Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

On June 17, a new fantasy thriller “Spiderhead” by Joseph Kosinski, the director of the recent “Top Gun: Maverick”, “Tron: Legacy” and “Oblivion”, was released on Netflix. The delay in the release of the blockbuster with Tom Cruise due to crippling restrictions allowed Kosinski to also make a picture for the streaming giant, using stars in the form of Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller (“Obsession”, “Boys with Barrels”, “Too Old to Die Young”) . The screenplay was written by the authors of “Zombieland” and “Deadpool” Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese. The tape is based on a story by the popular American author George Saunders. But whether it is worth watching the new summer hit of Netflix, read the review below.

“Spiderhead” / Spiderhead

Genre science fiction, thriller
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, Jerry Smollett
Netflix release
Release year 2022
IMDb site

Eccentric scientist Steve Abnesty (Chris Hemsworth) runs the unusual correctional institution “Spiderhead”. This large, beautiful building is located on a secluded island with limited access. Detainees are kept in comfortable conditions, well fed, sometimes taken out for walks and allowed to walk freely inside the complex. Steve’s favorite prisoner is Jeff (Miles Teller). The guy is in love with a new girl Lizzie (Journey Smollett), but the past does not allow him to confess.

During the stay in “Spiderhead” the probationary period is greatly shortened. Instead, prisoners wear a special device with various ampoules on their waist, which injects into the body experimental psychotropic substances that affect the senses. These can be amplifiers of love and sexual desire, triggers of fear, depression or fun. Abnesty himself regulates the dose and choice of substances through a smartphone. With his assistant Mark, Steve experiments with people’s emotions in order, as he says, to save humanity. But is everything really like that?


Unlike other prisons, such as Shawshank King, Spiderhead is a cute little town with minimal security, lots of free time, video games, books, and private rooms with lots of amenities. And the administrator himself is a nice, kind boy who dresses stylishly and dances to the music of the 70s. And he also takes care of his people, brings them medicine, buys new dishes and performs other small whims. Instead, only asks to follow his commands when experimenting with substances.

The film focuses on the relationship between Steve and Jeff. Sometimes Mark and Lizzie are added to this duo, as well as a couple of other inmates, but they serve only as tools and background for the development of the conflict between the head of the colony and his prisoner.

Hemsworth and Teller do a great job with their roles, you believe them and admire their quality acting. However, the screenwriters failed to skillfully reveal the characters, turn them inside out and make the audience empathize with them. Sometimes the backstory is given in torn pieces, and sometimes unnecessary plot twists are invented, where it is unnecessary.


Literally from the first minutes, the tape focuses the viewer’s attention on several topical topics and asks interesting questions. Should we alter human feelings and emotions with any substances or drugs? Aren’t we doing the same thing today and won’t succumb to similar conveniences in the future?

After all, it is so easy to take a pill and feel happiness or love, or to give a substance to another to change his feelings, as we want. An enemy can be intimidated, a friend can be made more loyal, and the object of love can be forced to reciprocate. Such power will not pass without a trace, but the main question is who will get such a powerful tool and what will he do with it.

But if the characters did not turn out very well, the screenwriters still managed to build a tense development of events. Fantastic thrillers are strong in the idea and its effective disclosure, which is what happened in the case of “Spiderhead”. Conflicts skillfully escalate, the characters move in the right direction, along the way revealing hidden motives and the real truth about the drugs administered to the prisoners. They do not forget about humor, skillfully and precisely inserting it in the right places. It does not spoil the impression and does not reduce the tension of emotions, but on the contrary, adds pepper to what is happening.


The screenwriters of “Spiderhead” managed to ask the extremely relevant questions mentioned above, competently inflame passions and twist the plot. And then all this is senselessly merged in the last two or three minutes of the tape.

The finale of the picture is not bad in itself. It’s just that, according to the idea, he should give at least one answer to the question posed by the picture itself and successfully, and even better, spectacularly, complete the avalanche of events flying down. But it was not possible to implement any of the points in the film.

Perhaps the authors did not have enough story material for the full implementation of the idea. Or maybe they just didn’t manage to implement ready-made ideas. In any case, the picture is more perceived as an episode of some fantastic anthology, and not as a full-fledged Netflix summer blockbuster.

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Pros: an interesting fantasy plot, good acting, pleasant music and excellent soundtracks, handsome and effective Chris Hemsworth, harmonious natural performance of Miles Teller Cons: mixed ending, clumsy disclosure of the characters and their past, clumsy presentation of the background Conclusion:

“Spiderhead” is an exciting and stylishly made fantasy thriller with excellent actors and a cool plot. The film is well-made, but simply shot, and the music is perfectly selected. True, the screenwriters failed to fully reveal the characters, and they clumsily mixed up a well-thought-out plot conflict in the finale. The authors did not cope with the answers to their own topical questions. Although I did not rate the picture the highest, I still recommend spending your time watching it. “Spider-head” has more pros than cons, and the acting tandem of Hemsworth-Teller is definitely worth your attention

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