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Dennis "Spider" Cleg is the titular protagonist villain of 2002 Canadian-British psychological drama film produced and directed by David Cronenberg, Spider. He is first presented as a mentally challenged man who tries to reconstruct his past in order to find the woman that caused his father to kill his mother, but in a final twist it is revealed that he suffers from Schizophrenia.
He was portrayed by Ralph Fiennes, who also portrayed Amon Goeth in Schindler's List, Rameses in The Prince of Egypt, Raiden the Moon King in Kubo and the Two Strings, Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon, Hades in Clash of the Titans, Victor Quartermaine in Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of The Were-Rabbit, Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter franchise, and Barry in Dolittle.
Dennis Cleg is a mentally ill man who just came out from a mental institution and returns to his hometown to live in a halfway house, run by an elderly and severe woman named Mrs. Wilkinson. While staying there and roaming in the streets, Dennis remembers Mrs. Wilkinson from his childhood, a time that is blurry for him, but he begins to remember and reconstruct it. He recovers a childhood memory of seeing Mrs. Wilkinson masturbating his father in his family's garden, and seeing his mother in a silky night gown she wore for his father. On the present day he visits a small farming next to a shack and lies on the ground crying and mumbling for his mother. It is also revealed that he sees Mrs. Wilkinson very differently from how she actually is.
He also remembers one night when his mother (who called him "Spider" for his passion for making "spider webs" on his bedroom) sent him to the local pub to retrieve his father. He found Mrs. Wilkinson there, and discovered that she was a prostitute. Mrs. Wilkinson showed Dennis one of her breasts, and he runs away, crying.
Spider in the present day, "befriends" a senile old man who frequently talks to him, starts to develop a hate for Mrs. Wilkinson and also remembers other things from his past, like being in the fields with two unnamed friends and being in the mental institution witnessing a man have a breakdown and threatening the doctors with a shard of broken glass, after the man was restrained, Spider found one of the shards and hid it, on the yard he considered cutting his veins but instead returned to shard to the institution's director. It is also revealed some of Spider's obsessions and strange behavior, like saving his tobacco inside a box he keeps inside a sock tucked in his pants, mumbling small sentences or words, picking up pebbles from the street, wearing five shirts at the same time, wrapping himself in newspaper when he imagines to smell gas and writing his memories as he reconstructs them on a small notebook in an intelligible language and with no conception of horizontal nor vertical writing as he constantly switches.
Spider keeps remembering, even things that happened without him being there as a child, like his severe father cheating on his mother with Mrs. Wilkinson every night in the shack he visited, he also remembers one night when his mother went out in the night to the pub to look for her husband, but when she didn't found him, she went to the shack where he found him having intercourse with Mrs. Wilkinson, he savagely grabs a shovel and hits Spider's mother in the head with it, killing her as she falls on the ground where Spider had previously cried for her, all of this as Mrs. Wlkinson laughs. Then Spider remembers how his father brought Mrs. Wilkinson to live with them as Spider's new mother, something the child hated, he developed a hate for her and his father, accusing them of killing his mother, he escaped to the shack and when his father found him, he tried to convince him he hadn't killed his mother, it is here when the audience is given a hint of present day Spider's delusion, as his past self reluctantly returns home and Mrs. Wilkinson serves them an eel for dinner.
Present day Spider finishes the reconstruction, he steals Mrs. Wilkinson keys and uses them to enter her bedroom, when he presumably finds the same coat she wears in his memories, he is sure of it, and plans on killing her, he begins to make one of his spider webs on his bedroom just like he did as a child to set a trap for Mrs. Wilkinson and try to activate the gas from his room and asphyxiate her, but Mrs. Wilkinson suspects of him and confronts him in his room asking for the keys, when she doesn't find them, she leaves and Spider decides to try something less complicated, he uses the keys to get a hammer and a screwdriver from the tool box and sneaks on Mrs. Wilkinson room as she is sleeping. Spider seems hesitant as he remembers that as a child, Spider successfully made a trap for young Mrs. Wilkinson, after one night she came home drunk with his father and fell asleep on the kitchen, using his "spiderwebs" Spider activated the gas from his room and filled the house with gas, his father rescued him but is unable to save Mrs. Wilkinson as he drags her out of the house, present day Spider sees himself in the same place as him as a child watching his father crying next to the body of the deceased woman as he blames him for "killing his mother" it s here when Spider realizes his delusion and sees that her mother was never killed by his father nor replaced by Mrs. Wilkinson and that he had instead, in his delusion, killed his own mother, present day Spider, disturbed by this, steps back as Mrs. Wikinson wakes up asking him "What have you done?".
That same night the mental institution's director arrives to pick up Spider and asks him if he's ready to return with them, he gives him a cigarette and they leave in a car with Spider still disturbed yet sad and resigned, as the car leaves the audience sees young Spider instead inside the car as the screen fades to black and the movie ends.