Joseph Kosinski’s Dystopian Sci-Fi Film Raises Various Thematic Questions About Humanity

by Joseph Kosinsky spider head was released on Netflix on June 17, 2022. The quirky, cyberpunk film stars Chris Hemsworth as an evil genius and Miles Teller as Jeff, the subject of his unethical drug experimentation.

The screenplay was adapted from a 2010 New Yorker article by George Saunders titled Escape from Spiderhead.

The sci-fi film tackles various pertinent issues such as trauma, ethics, consent, and free will. It depicts a dystopian scenario not too unheard of in Hollywood movies and literature. More recently, Marvel Moon Knight addressed a similar debate around free will.


spider head film summary: Lies, deception and human experimentation

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spider head stages in an offbeat way everything that has been prohibited since the Second World War. Under the guise of consensual trials and the freedom to eat and dress as they wish, the inmates of Spiderhead Institution are lured into devious experiments by Hemsworth’s Steve Abnesti.

Each inmate has a futuristic device called a MobiPack surgically attached to their body, which contains colorful vials of creatively named chemicals that alter their behavior and emotions.

The film began with an example of tests carried out with these chemicals. The first scene showed the subject laughing uncontrollably. He was told jokes and facts about a genocide while high on a drug called Laffodil.

Other trials involved the use of drugs that induce physical and emotional intimacy, the phobic avoidance of something as standard as a stapler, or the worst experience a person could have tenfold.

Mr. Abnesti made all of his subjects participate in these ridiculous and despicable trials by cajoling and manipulating them into believing it was for the greater good. Unfortunately, the sociopathic genius went too far and his actions resulted in the death of one of the inmates.

This set off a series of events led by Jeff (Teller) that culminated in the revelation of Abnesti’s true intentions and his eventual death.


After doomsday action dramas, Hollywood’s next obsession is mind control and free will

Viewers can tell something is wrong with spider head from the start. Behind Mr. Abnesti’s exaggerated optimistic mannerisms, waggling eyebrows and quick talk lurks a devious individual. His subjects behind the one-way mirror might not realize it, but his squeaky-clean metal-rimmed glasses help you see right through him.

There have been too many stories about the dystopian possibility of totalitarianism, mind control, confiscation of free will, ignorance of human agency, etc. Fans of the dystopian genre must have been quick to identify these themes and appreciate the quirky perspective presented by Kosinski’s sci-fi film.

The illusion of choice and freedom created by Hemsworth’s character in the film crumbled when Jeff learned the truth about Spiderhead’s trial. The various drugs tested were only subsidiary experiments of the main drug OBDX or Obediex. Abnesti wanted to create the possibility of absolute obedience in those who received the drug.

The idea of ​​using drugs for psychological torture and mind control is not too foreign, as history buffs and stranger things fans who know Project MKUltra will tell you that.


Past crimes, traumas and self-forgiveness: other thematic questions in spider head

All of the inmates at Spiderhead’s prison and research facility had committed a crime and were part of Steve Abnesti’s drug trials instead of their respective prison sentences.

Jeff’s past crime was revealed through flashbacks where he had his friend and girlfriend killed in a drunk driving accident. Lizzy’s crime kicked her out by Steve.

Both were shown remedying pain with pain. They believed they deserved the painful treatment and drug trials because of the horrible things they had done. Steve was also often seen justifying his inhumane trials, especially the administration of Darkenfloxx, because they weren’t innocent people.

This raised the question of whether people should be judged by their worst days and their mistakes. Are they not capable of change and improvement? marvel’s Moon Knight also presented this issue in its own way.

Steve also had his own tragic past, which may have led him to design such sociopathic experiments to remedy his own pain.

With all these traumatic pasts at the origin of all the madness, spider head highlight the importance of self-forgiveness and appropriate trauma management. The final scene of the film shows Jeff talking about forgiving himself in order to move forward in life.

Don’t forget to watch spider head, which is now streaming on Netflix.


Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh

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