A mentally disturbed man takes residence in a halfway house. His mind gradually slips back into the realm created by his illness, where he replays a key part of his childhood.


David Cronenberg


Patrick McGrath (novel), Patrick McGrath
13 wins & 25 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Ralph Fiennes ... Spider
Miranda Richardson ... Yvonne / Mrs. Cleg
Gabriel Byrne ... Bill Cleg
Lynn Redgrave ... Mrs. Wilkinson
John Neville ... Terrence
Bradley Hall ... Spider Boy
Gary Reineke Gary Reineke ... Freddy
Philip Craig ... John
Cliff Saunders ... Bob
Tara Ellis Tara Ellis ... Nora
Sara Stockbridge ... Gladys
Arthur Whybrow Arthur Whybrow ... Ernie
Nicola Duffett ... Barmaid
Jake Nightingale Jake Nightingale ... Large Man
Alison Egan Alison Egan ... Flashing Yvonne


Dennis Clegg is in his thirties and lives in a halfway house for the mentally ill in London. Dennis, nicknamed "Spider" by his mother has been institutionalized with acute schizophrenia for some 20 years. He has never truly recovered, however, and as the story progresses we vicariously experience his increasingly fragile grip on reality. Written by Erwin van Moll <max404@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The only thing worse than losing your mind... is finding it again. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality, brief violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Shot over a period of eight weeks. See more »


Shadow on the road just before Spider gets the rope from the construction site. See more »


Spider: [turning in a shard of glass from the smashed door] I... I found this...
Psychiatrist: [we see the reconstructed panel on a desk] Ah, yes. We've been looking for that one...
See more »


References Wild Strawberries (1957) See more »

User Reviews

Cronenberg Is Back To His Best With A Characteristically Original Take On The Mentally Ill In Society
22 September 2007 | by Afzal-s2007See all my reviews

David Cronenberg's film, based on a novel adapted by its author, Patrick McGrath, is set in London in the late 1980's, and explores the effects of an infamous Conservative government policy, whereby expensive, outdated mental hospitals were streamlined and the inmates released with limited supervision, a process that was termed Care in the Community. The film focuses on Spider, an elusive mental patient, institutionalised for most of his life, now released and returned back to a halfway house in East London, the place of his childhood, to fend for himself in the outside world.

This does not look to the uninformed like a Cronenberg film, there being no teleportation, telepathic head-blowing or the like, but once viewed, the film is clearly in Cronenberg's territory. From the beginning of the 1990's, he has seemed to be searching (it seems to me at times desperately) for new subjects in which to explore his morbid fascination. This fascination concerns the consequences of illness. Illness is given outrageous forms in his earlier films, a car accident which debilitates Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone, for instance, one of its effects being morbid clairvoyance. In Spider, Cronenberg focuses on the effect of illness on the brain, with its manifestation in what we would call the real world, when scientists actually view our 'real' world as a simulation made by our brains (and therefore our bodies).

As ever, Cronenberg, unlike other directors, does not condescend and go for the easy option, in other words making Spider a neatly disturbed, good-looking human, glamorised by his tragic sense of unreality, i.e. A Beautiful Mind. Instead, he really explores what it might be like for an intelligent man who tries to make sense of a world and past warped by mental disturbance, and questions his perception and sense of reality. Cronenberg gives Spider pathos and humanity, but never glamorises him.

Ralph Fiennes inhabits Spider naturally and impressively, bringing to the role his consistent qualities of commitment and intensity. The supporting cast is wonderful. Gabriel Byrne plays Spider's father with his rich sourness and Miranda Richardson, in a double role, shows why she is such a hidden, rough gem of British acting (at least to the wider world).

In Spider, Cronenberg Is Back To His Best With A Characteristically Original Film About Society and Mental Illness

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Canada | UK | France



Release Date:

13 November 2002 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Spider See more »


Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,575, 22 December 2002

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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