Under the Shadow
ALT | Altered States
With the Iran-Iraq conflict raging and air-raid sirens echoing through the streets of Tehran, Shideh (Narges Rashidi) discovers that her apartment is far from a sanctuary when a missile crashes through the roof but unnervingly fails to detonate. The sense of Damoclean dread is stoked to almost excruciating levels when an ancient, evil djinn manifests and malevolently targets her young daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi), leaving the girl sickly and disturbed.
A shadowy presence rendered in Lovecraftian broad strokes rather than intricate detail, the amorphous djinn quickly establishes itself as the most terrifying paranormal trespasser since The Babadook. However, the real horror arrives courtesy of the realization that the streets outside of Shideh’s apartment are now populated by zealots who possess nothing but contempt for an independent woman such as herself. Consequently, Shideh has no other choice but to stand her ground within the crumbling walls of her home and fight for her daughter’s future… Director Babak Anvari has crafted a small-scale masterpiece rich in subtext.
"[A] delectable, increasingly unnerving shiver-fest… Making the most of a limited budget and two strong female leads, Mr. Anvari turns the everyday into the otherworldly using a medley of genre tricks, though mostly through the bracing idea that the Iranian revolution is itself a horror tale haunting one and all."—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times