Under the Shadow
Release year: 2016
Director: Babak Anvari
Screenwriter: Babak Anvari
Starring: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi, Arash Marandi, Soussan Farrokhnia, Ray Haratian, Hamid Djavadan
During the war in Tehran in the 1980s, a mother is left alone with her young daughter in a house. As the missile attacks begin she starts suspecting they are haunted by a supernatural force.
Under the Shadow is something as rare as an Iranian horror movie and a solid directorial debut by Iranian-born Babak Anvari. Usually the movie we see taking place during the long war that raced in Tehran in the 1980s the focus is either on the war, the suppression of women (especially when the lead as here is a woman) or both. But somehow when those themes are pushed to the background of a main story about the Arabic supernatural creature djinn, they become even stronger, as you somehow realize for them it is no big deal that a scared woman fleeing on to the streets with her child but without scarf is threatened with punishment, it is just another day. There is hardly a scene without Narges Rashidi (A2Z, 2017) meaning she has a lot on her shoulders, but she has no problems lifting it, delivering a strong emotional performance as the mother struggling with protecting her dauther from bombs as well as creatures trying to steal her away. Though Manshadi (Arezou, 2019) delivers a performance way more mature than her age, it is the mother we follow and through her experiences we sense the dread and the horror. Anvari gives a good axample of how less is more when it comes to horror and thrillers. The cast is limited, as is the space the movie takes place in, and he cleverly uses both the contained space and the air attacks to create a sense of paranoia and dread. Some will find it too slow moving and too weak to be called a good horror, movie others will rejoice the strong characters building and the delicate storytelling often forgotten in the genre, no matter what, Anvari leaves great promise of an international career as filmmaker.
The movie was shot in Jordan.
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