Universal acclaim - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35

Critic Reviews

  1. In this small and very smart film, Cronenberg does several things at once and makes them all look effortless, capturing various shadings of consciousness and versions of reality.
  2. Arguably the subtlest, most carefully textured film of Cronenberg's career.
  3. 100
    Spider lasts in the mind and it's built to last -- this is a movie that invites and repays repeated viewings.
  4. 91
    Exciting spectacle of a master director reining in his abilities to create a work that is etched in acid, burnished in smoke.
  5. His story is sad, compelling and morbidly, tragically watchable.
  6. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    The most elegantly crafted and confidently directed of all his (Cronenberg's) films, it's a calm, chilling portrait of a blighted soul and, just as calmly but quite stunningly, an evocation of the thought processes behind the blight.
  7. 90
    Deliciously wicked, strangely poetic portrait (adapted by Patrick McGrath from his own novel) of a schizophrenic man at once tyrannized and elevated by oedipal terrors.
  8. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    The superbly acted Spider is muted in comparison: it’s a quiet nightmare, painted in hospital greens and rust browns.
  9. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    This slow but brilliantly sustained journey into madness is fronted by a remarkable performance from Ralph Fiennes and superb backup from Miranda Richardson in a triple role.
  10. I was floored by Cronenberg's mastery of the material. Fiennes gives one of his finest performances; Miranda Richardson, playing at least three characters in the protagonist's twisted vision, is no less impressive.
  11. 90
    It takes an especially fine-tuned director and an inventive actor to cut as close to the bone as Spider does.
  12. Spider is not a pulse-quickening experience, but Fiennes's art makes it engrossing.
  13. In an instance of director, stars and material melding flawlessly, Spider is a brilliantly realized depiction of a mentally ill individual.
  14. 88
    What catches us in Spider's web -- besides the indelible performances of Fiennes and Richardson -- is the director's sympathy with this freak man-child who struggles to order his confused memories into a kind of truth.
  15. This is a rare adaptation where the script (by McGrath himself) heads straight for the novel's horrible essence, reproducing it non-verbally and in an even more concentrated form.
  16. A shocker for devotees of stylish angst and psychological torment. You'll have to watch it with patience and great attention, but it richly rewards that patience.
  17. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    It's Cronenberg's finest film, it's star Ralph Fiennes's riskiest role, it's a tour de force for actress Miranda Richardson.
  18. Cronenberg's most disciplined exploration yet of that shadowy realm: the world refracted through the prism of a schizophrenic mind.
  19. 80
    This is the film that "Shine" and A Beautiful Mind could not be, a story about schizophrenia that doesn’t neatly resolve its complex subject matter.
  20. 80
    It isn't likely to drive anybody out of the theater -- although getting people out of the house to see a meticulous, minimalist study of madness and memory may be another story.
  21. Brilliantly realized but bone-chillingly bleak.
  22. An eensy-weensy movie sustained by two utterly gigantic performances.
  23. 80
    Were he only trying to remark on that world's creepiness, Cronenberg would still succeed brilliantly, if coldly, but his sympathy makes the film.
  24. 78
    Cronenberg’s nonlinear narrative is trying at times – it keeps you nearly as off-kilter as the characters, and surely that’s intentional – but as a character piece about madness and stymied dreams, it’s remarkably realistic.
  25. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    This is the kind of well-made movie you wish well but you don't particularly wish to see again.
  26. 75
    The details of the film and of the performances are meticulously realized; there is a reward in seeing artists working so well. But the story has no entry or exit, and is cold, sad and hopeless. Afterward, I feel more admiration than gratitude.
  27. A cat's cradle of creepy childhood memory oozing unreliably from the mind of an aging, desiccated, paranoid schizophrenic, played quite amazingly by a mumbling, stooped, shifty-eyed Ralph Fiennes.
  28. Fiennes' very skin participates in the project -- his fingernails are nicotine-stained the color of tea bags. The performance works; it's a ballet, a concerto of big, big Acting.
  29. If you have the patience, its almost endless silences and extremely slow pacing eventually pay off.
  30. 75
    This superbly realized, clammy and unsettling movie doesn't hinge on plot. Claustrophobic and profoundly creepy, Spider isn't a pleasant viewing experience, and that's the point.
  31. Spider is a difficult film, but an inspired one, the movie equivalent of eating a meal of artfully prepared eel or sea urchin. It's for those with adventurous tastes and no fear of squishy textures.
  32. Its minutely detailed revelations work their way under the skin like slivers of glass.
  33. A kind of psychological whodunit, but without the thrills. The clue-making is rather desultory, as if Cronenberg were indulging a narrative strategy he didn’t really care for.
  34. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    The inner life of the young Spider is just screaming to be taken to the next level--but Cronenberg mulishly won't go there. What goes wrong with Spider is pretty basic: The audience has no idea why it was made.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 49 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 22
  2. Negative: 2 out of 22
  1. williamw
    Apr 1, 2009
    The most nerve-racking, chillingly precise film about mental illness ever made. In my humble opinion, the director's magnus opus.
  2. Methusalah
    Jan 9, 2008
    This movie was visually astounding. It had more eye catching, amazingly framed scenes than any previous Cronenberg movie. A surreal trek This movie was visually astounding. It had more eye catching, amazingly framed scenes than any previous Cronenberg movie. A surreal trek through a day in the life of a mentally ill individual. Full Review »
  3. MathewB.
    Jul 6, 2007
    A masterpiece of perception of reality vs. reality