Under the Shadow
Cert: 15 Year: 2016 Length: 84 mins Language: Persian
Cinema Handout (PDF 83KB)
Score: 56.52% Attendance: 49
Looking for new things to tempt you with this year, we have a couple of 'chillers' outside our normal scope. This one - written and directed by an Iranian in exile - unfolds from a feminist 'cry of anger' into a much weirder 'things that go bump in the night' horror movie: expect to see much about the problems of life for a lone mother and her daughter in post-revolution Iran... then expect the unexpected...
Shideh has been banned from becoming a doctor as a leftist, her husband is not sympathetic: she is a woman after all. He is sent to the front and she is left to look after her daughter in war-torn Tehran, forced to wear chador in the street and steadily losing all freedoms (she watches Jane Fonda workout videos behind closed blinds).
As life gets harder and harder for them, a bomb falls on their apartment block; but has something else arrived with it? Sleep-deprived Shideh gets more and more exhausted, we are gradually taken from the horrors of the world of war and male domination into an equally scary world of dhinns and poltergeists. "It is impossible to know what is real and what is not, what is a result of Shideh's exhaustion and what is a valid response to living in a war zone" - Sheila O'Malley, Roger Ebert.com.
What makes this film more believable than many straight horror movies is this basis in an already awful reality; it "offers itself up as an allegory of a nation left permanently damaged by the ravages of its own religio-political transformation", as Anton Bitel says on Projected Figures.com.
"As for special effects, did you honestly doubt that peeling duct tape and a sheet of printed fabric, if handled with imaginative brio, could be as frightening as any ten-million-dollar monster?"
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18th Keswick Film Festival 16-19th February 2017
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