Is Spiderhead scary? A realistic fantasy of a dystopian world


Spiderhead, premiering on Netflix on 11 June has got many viewers worried about the realistic elements the film represents in a dark world. Starring Hollywood superstar Chris Hemsworth and Top Gun Maverick star Miles Teller, the film follows the journey of two inmates who starts opposing the mind-altering drugs given to them at a penitentiary institute. 

Although many details in the film can be grouped as badly written sci-fi fantasy, there are some nuances of the film which has the potential to apply to live as we know it. 

Caution: Major spoilers ahead!

Some scenes in the film may not be suitable for younger audiences

Although the film is relatively calm at best in its portrayal of mind-altering drugs, there are some scenes with gory and graphic visuals. This has led this film to be categorized into the ‘Rated R’ category, meaning viewers under the age of 17 require accompaniment by a parent or a guardian. Netflix, however, deems this film suitable for people over the age of 15. 

There is one particular incident where an inmate called Heather is administered Darkenfloxx, a depressing drug that takes all the happiness away from her system. This makes her vomit and goes paranoid to the extent that she starts striking herself. While this happens, she accidentally strikes her Mobipack, which is operated on her and contains all the drugs. 

Once the Mobipack breaks, more Darkenfloxx is injected into her system resulting in her driving a wooden plank straight to her throat. She later dies of excessive bleeding and paranoia. This scene has been filmed in a very visual way to show the effects of this drug, making it extremely scary to watch with both eyes open. 

Chris Hemsworth speaks to Cinemablend about shooting this scene;

“That was intense. I had to, I don’t know, in the space of a minute go through about four or five different emotions, and it was a thing that scared me reading the script. I thought this is going to be either really cool, or really hokey and I’m thankful it worked out. As much as it was, think less and go for it, and let it be sort of visceral in my gut, if I tried to kind of map that out too specifically and intellectually, I think it would have felt orchestrated.”

Other graphic incidents include an inmate eating continuously while throwing up, high-impact vehicle crashes, strangling, and the use of obscene language. 

The film shows an extreme toward the unregulated pharmaceutical industry

Perhaps the scariest outcome of the film occurs in the realistic nuances that could happen in real life. Spiderhead is all about the journey of a visionary who aims to produce mind-altering drugs through unsanctioned ways. Towards the end of the film, the viewer understands that Miles and Lizzy were free to go for some time, but Steve blocked the release papers so he can continue testing on inmates. 

The drugs in the tests too are completely hypnotical and take their users away from real life. Drugs like the Luvactin can create a strong sexual attraction towards a stranger while Laffodil can make its user laugh without control or knowledge of the context. The film finally reveals the aim of Steve who tries to create the ultimate drug of absolute obedience, giving its holder cataclysmic powers. 

Although this is a very dystopian sci-fi story, there have been many talks and controversies along the lines of drugs and vaccines during the covid 19 pandemic with many antivax supporters claiming irregularities of the big pharma companies. While the story of Spiderhead may still seem distant, the lack of regulations and unethical testing can very well be realistic traits. 

Spiderhead certainly doesn’t fall into the horror category, but it does have graphically and ethically violent nuances that viewers may find troubling. The film, however, is loosely written with many plot holes and is best to stay away from.