Under the Shadow – Iran/UK, 2016

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‘Fear will find you’

Under the Shadow (Persian: زیر سایه‎‎) is a 2016 Iranian-British supernatural horror film written and directed by Babak Anvari, , in which a mother and daughter are haunted by a mysterious evil in 1980s Tehran. Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi and Bobby Naderi star.

1988, Tehran, Iran: As a mother and daughter struggle to cope with the terrors of the post-revolution, war-torn city, a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home…

 

Narges Rashidi Under the Shadow 2016 Iranian horror

Under the Shadow was produced by British film company Wigwam Films. It premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim and has been acquired by US streaming service Netflix. Vertical Entertainment and XYZ Films (He Never Died) are selling the worldwide rights. Meanwhile, the film is released on DVD in the UK on 23 January 2017 by Signature Entertainment.

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Buy: Amazon.co.uk

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Reviews:

“Though it ultimately falls back on the usual pileup of scare tactics — floating things, gooey things, sudden forms emerging from the shadows — Anvari uses this toolbox in a pointed fashion. Under the Shadow smartly observes the emotions stirred up by a world defined by restrictions, and the terrifying possibility that they might be inescapable.” Eric Kohn, Indiewire

“The director uses his share of stock devices like bone-chilling groans, violent sound cues and startling jump scares, but he executes them with great style. The first such shocker is a hilarious tease involving a pop-up toaster, a crafty trick that sent a ripple of nervous laughter through the Sundance audience. Anvari also continues the welcome trend of adventurous horror directors largely favoring practical effects over CG.” David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

Under the Shadow has everything that makes great horror: a unique mythology that plagues us psychologically as well as viscerally, a confined setting (in this case culturally mandated confinement as well as physical) and good old scary monsters.” Fred Topel, Bloody Disgusting

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“The film’s triumph lies in its ability to critique Iran’s post-revolution regime for its blatant sexism (in one harrowing sequence, Shideh is arrested for simply going outdoors without her chador), while still working as a full-throttle horror when the demons come out to play. Anvari proves himself to be a master at modulating fear: the jump scares are executed with effective precision, leading up to a magnificently intense climax.” Nigel M Smith, The Guardian

“Slyly merging a familiar but effective genre exercise with a grim allegory of female oppression, Babak Anvari’s resourceful writing-directing debut grounds its premise in something at once vaguely political and ineluctably sinister; imagine an Asghar Farhadi remake of The Babadook and you’re halfway there.” Justin Chang, Variety

“A very impressive feature debut by Iran-born, London-based film-maker Babak Anvari, this is thoughtful, provocative and increasingly scary fare, which succeeds equally as feminist fable, fractured family drama and full-on fright-fest.” Mark Kermode, The Observer

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” … scenes like the one in which the shadowy woman’s chador envelops Shideh, nearly suffocating her until she fights free, are spookily and movingly expressive of the tenuous position of women in 1980s Iran, a vivid illustration of how hard women like Shideh must work just to carve out a little breathing room for themselves and their daughters.” Elise Nakhnikian, Slant

“It’s a serious movie about pressure on an independent-minded woman living under Sharia law, but Anvari also delivers an outstanding slow-burn horror film with potent jump scares — one jolt is as well-timed and effective as anything since the hand-from-the-grave in Carrie or the shattered window in Halloween — and a sparingly used but startling toothy apparition.” Kim Newman, Empire

Under the Shadow is clearly a personal film, and Anvari has assembled an extremely talented team to make that a reality. Production designer Nasser Zoubi and set decorator Karim Kheir create the period gently, without a hint of nostalgic fetishism. The visual effects are sparingly used but truly spooky, and there are many spine-chilling scream-worthy moments.” Sheila O’Malley, RogerEbert.com

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Cast and characters:

  • Narges Rashidi as Shideh
  • Avin Manshadi as Dorsa
  • Bobby Naderi as Iraj
  • Ray Haratian as Mr. Ebrahimi
  • Arash Marandi as Dr. Reza
  • Bijan Daneshmand as Director

Wikipedia | IMDb | Iranian horror: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

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Buy: Special Edition Blu-ray | Instant Video from Amazon.com

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