Spiderhead Plot Synopsis
Directed by Joseph Kosinski (Top Gun: Maverick), Spiderhead tells the story of Jeff (Miles Teller) and Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett) who have been incarcerated in a prison facility after causing the deaths of others.
The facility is overseen by Steve (Chris Hemsworth), a disarmingly charming man who orchestrates drug testing on the inmates in return for an early release.
The drugs intensify human emotions and take away the free will of the inmates. As the movie runs its course, Jeff realises the inherent dangers involved with the drug testing and plans an escape with Lizzy.
But do they escape? And do they become free of the drugs that are controlling their actions? Let’s take a closer look.
Why are Jeff and Lizzy at the facility?
After losing control of the car that he was recklessly driving, Jeff caused the death of both his best friend and his girlfriend. This resulted in his incarceration. Lizzy is at the facility because her nine-month-old daughter died after she left her in a car while she went to work.
Instead of being placed in a maximum-security prison, they are taken to Spiderhead. Here, they are able to wander around freely – or so they think. It later becomes apparent that they aren’t as free as they think they are.
What drugs are tested on the inmates?
There are several drugs that are used on the inmates. These are administered via the MobiPak’s that are connected to each inmate’s bloodstream.
N-40 (Luvactin) is a drug that causes people to fall in love and become intimate with one another. Jeff agrees to take this with two of the other inmates, Heather and Sarah.
Then there’s G-46 (Laffodil) which essentially works like laughing gas. We see this being used at the start of the movie on Ray, who bursts into uncontrollable laughter, even when he is told some uncomfortable facts about the Rwandan genocide.
I-16 (Darkenfloxx) is infinitely more harmful than those other drugs as it causes the recipient to become depressed and have suicidal thoughts. At one point in the movie, this drug is administered to Heather and it causes her to kill herself.
The drug that becomes central to the plot is B-6 (Obediex) and as you can probably guess from its name, it causes people to become obedient to those that are controlling them. It later becomes evident that Steve has been using this throughout the movie, so while the inmates assumed they had free will, it turns out that they were being manipulated to do whatever Steve wanted them to do.
Why is Steve carrying out the drug tests?
According to Steve, he is carrying out the tests for the good of humanity. However, it becomes apparent that his motivations are far more selfish. As his drugs can make a person become compliant, there is obviously a place for these in the marketplace. Imagine what businesses or governments could do with such drugs, for example, as they could control the behaviour of the masses!
Steve can make a massive profit by selling these drugs to others, although we don’t quite understand his reasons for doing so, beyond his greed and hoped-for monetary gain.
How does Jeff find out about B-6?
Jeff is invited to watch drug testing on Heather but when she cuts her own throat after being given Darkenfloxx, he is left alone while Steve and his assistant try to aid her.
While in the control room, Jeff finds Steve’s pocketbook. After opening it up, he finds out the truth about Steve’s experiments and the effects of B-6, which he realises has been used to manipulate his actions. This convinces him to leave the facility with Lizzy and he starts to put a plan in motion.
Do Jeff and Lizzy escape?
As Steve has a Mobi-Pak of his own (to test the drugs on himself for scientific purposes), Jeff is able to convince Mark to fill the pack with B-6 and the other drugs. It’s a good job that he did as this is the means for Jeff’s eventual escape.
Towards the end of the movie, Steve uses B-6 on Jeff as a means of making him administer Darkenfloxx to Lizzie.
Jeff refuses to administer the drug, proving that B-6 isn’t as strong as Steve thought it was, and the two get into a fight. Steve’s Mobi-Pak breaks during the scuffle, causing him to be filled with the mix of drugs that have been placed inside. This causes him to lose control of the fight and his emotions.
Jeff and Lizzy use this opportunity to escape the facility and they make it to a boat on the mainland. They set sail into the sunset while behind them, Steve follows in his plane. But as the drugs have messed with Steve’s mind, he crashes his plane and presumably dies in the explosion.
Do Jeff and Lizzy have free will?
It’s hard to say. When Steve’s plane crashes, Lizzy starts to laugh, and it could be assumed that she is still under the influence of the drug that Ray was given when he laughed uncontrollably at the start of the movie.
However, we don’t know this for sure. It might be that they still have traces of the drugs in their system but as there is nobody left to administer any fresh doses, it is likely they are as free of the effects of the drugs as they are free of the facility.
Read More: Spiderhead Movie Review