Under the Shadow
Iranian-born British filmmaker Babak Anvari marks his feature debut with this chilling psychological horror, laced with tension and a keen sense of social and feminist commentary. Set in 1988 against the backdrop of the Iran-Iraq war, the tale follows Shideh (Narges Rashidi), marked as a subversive for her support of the liberal opposition.
When an Iraqi air raid hits, Shideh is left with her daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi), the two hiding in their building’s basement shelter. As their relationship fractures, the real world and the supernatural collide to chillingly malevolent effect.
Mining the rich vein of terror from kindred (otherworldly) spirits The Babadook and A Girl Walks Home Alone, Anvari shrewdly conjures scares through a realism that is raked with an ominous ambiguity and political allegory. As with the finest horrors, the film’s hugely atmospheric presence owes a debt to superlative sound design; Anvari pays respect to the genre’s established aural cues, yet executes them with a flair that marks Under the Shadow with its own distinctive identity. This is a standout debut that touches on evils both supernatural and real.