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


Watashi no haha wa korosareta [Japan] 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?


Samuel Beckett was one of the director's touchstones for the film. Photographs of the playwright were pinned around the sets, and Fiennes' hairstyle is even modeled after Beckett's. See more »


Position of Spider's feet changes when he sets down his suitcase after getting of the train. See more »


Bill Cleg: You want air in those pipes?
Yvonne: We got air, bad air.
See more »

User Reviews

Psychosis is not a healthy coping strategy
7 January 2003 | by ProperCharlieSee all my reviews

Spider is a wonderful entry into the Cronenberg cannon. I strikes me as Cronenberg trying to do a Ken Loachesque style movie with all of his usual hard philosophical questioning, sniping at your assumptions of what reality really is.

The overwhelming impression I was left with was the sheer creepiness of the film, highly appropriate in a film about a Spider. This impression is built up with wonderful cold and dismal sets and cinematography and a relentless slow pace that draws you in to the inevitably horrifying conclusion. There is always an undertone of the horrors that have driven the protagonist to his fate though you never really see that underlying terror. You almost feel as if his psychotic reaction to events was almost the only thing he could have done. The acting is first class all round I feel it would be unfair to single out any one of the stunning performances.

This film is really about growing up and how you cope with it. Everyone has to go through it and most seem to emerge the other side with only minor ticks and deviancies. Some people however are crushed by the terror of the things that come to light between the ages of 6 and 17 and this is the perfect illustration of this. This could have been you. More worryingly, if something really bad happens to you, this still could be you.

Are you so sure that everything you remember happening in your childhood really happened? Those little anecdotes you trot out when you're with friends? Are those memories coloured by how you saw the world when you were that age? What are childhood experiences are you hiding from yourself? In a sense these are all very Freudian concepts given life in a film that has as it's central plot a case of Oedipus twisted way beyond it's classical borders.

Some have found this boring, I didn't. I can understand that the slow pace and, for Cronenberg, the simplicity of the storyline might lead one to not engage with the film especially if you find the entire concept of mental illness alien. However, that feeling of wanting to run away from this film as fast as possible whilst screaming is one that should really recommend it to you in the strongest possible terms. Not all horror is jumps and monsters, some is atmosphere and the ordinary. And that's the scariest sort.

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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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