Warning: Spoilers for spider head below.
by Netflix spider head changes important details of “Escape from Spiderhead”, the short story by George Saunder on which it is based. A number of these changes are unsurprisingly additions, clearly inserted in an effort to expand under 40 pages into a feature film. However, some of the changes made to spider head completely contradict the events that occur in the source material.
spider head and Escape from Spiderhead both focus on Jeff (Miles Teller) as he is forced to participate in drug trials run by Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth) at a specialized correctional facility. These trials grow increasingly sinister, ranging from the relatively innocuous eloquence of Verbaluce to the suicidal Darkenfloxx. On page and on screen, the story ends with Jeff escaping from the facility, but in completely different settings.
While the changes aren’t necessarily bad, Netflix spider head, which was the occasion to buy back Netflix after red notice, seems to ignore some of the central themes of Saunder’s “Escape from Spiderhead.” These include character additions, focus changes, and an unexpected and hopeful ending. Here are the biggest changes between Saunders’ story and the Netflix adaptation.
Rachel was Darkenfloxxed as well as Heather
spider headThe first change in tone occurs when Steve Darkenfloxxes Heather, which causes her to commit suicide. It plays out the same way in the short story. However, while Heather’s death is more gruesome in the film, one twisted plot detail is omitted. In the name of scientific consistency, Book-Steve also provides Darkenfloxx Rachel, the other woman with whom Jeff was chemically enticed to have sex. This creates the final conflict in the short story, but as spider head went in another direction, this cut makes sense.
There was no focus on the outside world until the end of the story
spider head, which isn’t the only Netflix movie of summer 2022, includes plenty of panoramic shots of the beautiful world outside. In Saunders’ story, however, the reader is never included in what lies beyond the facility until Jeff escapes at the end. Although it’s a subtle difference, the wider cinematic focus helps organize the getaway during spider headis the highlight. This setup is not needed in the story because it ends differently.
Lizzy didn’t exist in the story
Although it has a central role in spider head, the character of Lizzy was not in the original short story at all. It has a clear function, however, which justifies its inclusion in the film. One of Abnesti’s essays is about the making of love. Under the influence of ED289/290, Jeff falls in love with Heather and Rachel but then feels nothing. Lizzy serves as an unartificial relationship, a comparison of true love to Abnesti’s made-up version.
The focus on Steve Abnesti was more prominent in the film
Abnesti is an antagonist in “Escape from Spiderhead”, but lacks the depth of Hemsworth’s version in spider head. Chris Hemsworth is a household name, set to reprise his role as Thor in love and thunder, so it would have been pointless to underuse an actor as powerful as him. Additionally, the increased focus on his motivations and background also adds a personal touch to the narrative. Saunders’ story, for example, never reveals Abnesti’s problems with her father. Additionally, there is no clear reason why he is conducting the trials in the story; in order to make Abnesti a more traditional villain, spider head deliberately interrogates his motives in a way Saunders didn’t need to.
Jeff’s criminal past was different
One of the film’s most redundant changes is the reimagining of Jeff’s criminal past. In the story, Jeff is imprisoned for hitting someone with a brick during a fight and is charged with manslaughter. In the spider head movie, directed by Top Gun: Maverick‘s Joseph Kosinski, Jeff has a car accident while under the influence of alcohol, killing both his girlfriend and his friend. Not only are the detailed descriptions of his crime an unnecessary addition to the story, but it’s also unclear why Jeff’s crime couldn’t stay the same.
Prisoners’ backgrounds are sometimes used against them as a reason for Darkenfloxxed. Lizzy, for example, is tortured by herself and Abnesti knowing that she is responsible for her baby’s death. However, this is never properly explored in Jeff’s context, making the move to a more emotional backstory entirely superficial.
The B-6 plot didn’t happen at all
In the film’s final act, Jeff discovers the reason behind the drug trials: Abnesti has been trying to perfect B-6, a drug that will control people. In a final showdown that involves Miles Teller resurrecting his Insurgent knife skills, Abnesti explains his master plan to Jeff, which Jeff then foils by alerting the authorities and escaping the facility. B-6 was never part of the short story, but it doesn’t seem out of place in spider head. Saunders keeps many details ambiguous, and while it works in a written format, it would have been unsatisfactory in a visual medium. Adding a larger world domination explanation and scheme helps to better situate the smaller concepts being interrogated throughout. spider head.
[Spoiler’s] Death has not happened
At the end of spider head, Abnesti’s pursuit of Jeff and Lizzy ends when he crashes his plane into the side of a mountain. Since the entire facility and pharmaceutical experiment belong to him, it is implied that Abnesti’s death marks the end of his twisted drug trials. There are no such suggestions in Saunders’ store. When Jeff escapes, the facility is still working and Abnesti is still alive. The end of the story is a symbolic victory for Jeff as a person, but it is not the societal victory represented in the spider head film.
Jeff didn’t have a happy ending in the story.
In perhaps the biggest change from the source material, Jeff gets a happy ending in Netflix. spider head. In the story, after refusing Darkenfloxx Rachel, he self-administers the drug and flees the facility. Outside, he awaits his own death, finally at peace knowing that he refused to help Abnesti kill anyone.
It probably wouldn’t have worked on screen, especially since a sequel is already in the works. It is not certain that spider head will stand up to the other sci-fi films expected in 2022, but this change shows some willful ignorance on the filmmaker’s part. Big Pharma remains unfazed by the George Saunders story; however, in the film, Jeff is able to dismantle the setup and sail into the sunset with a handsome accomplice on his arm. For a fairly dystopian story, the sweetness of spider headThe ending seems a bit out of place.
Next: Spiderhead Cast & Character Guide
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