Under The Shadow (2016)

A middle eastern Babadook.

As a mother and daughter struggle to cope with the terrors of post revolution, war torn Tehran of the 1980s, a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home.

Babak Anvari delivers a though provoking directorial debut, Under The Shadow, whilst drowning in social subtext. Blending terrifying real life horror of the Iran – Iraq war with the haunted house trope, it’s the horrifying reality which really gives Under The Shadow its sharp edge.

Like all of the best horror films, Under The Shadows is compelling before any monsters show up. True, it may be a familiar story just relocated, by it’s the frightening authentic backdrop that really sets in the grim atmosphere.

Under The Shadow is indeed a slow burn psychological chiller, only clocking in at 84 minutes, although it feels much longer. Fans for those who enjoy and are willing to read between the lines will get a kick out of this movie. As what we are really seeing is an interesting look into the mental psyche of a woman on the edge of a breakdown, in the middle of a war. Not only are there cracks in her ceiling, but cracks in her mind and family.

There are quite a few fleeting genuinely creepy moments, a particular nerve pricking scene involves Shideh (Narges Rashidi) fleeing her home in terror with her daughter, Dorsa (Avin Manshadi), to only be accosted in the street and shamed by police for not covering herself appropriately in public, rather then any help given, she is scolded and accused that the only thing she should fear is humiliation from her actions.

Rashidi and Manshadi share a remarkably believable connection as mother and daughter, almost too real, which really sells the final moments of the film.

Under The Shadow serves as an impassioned allegory for the female oppression. Once the move from realism to horror kicks in you begin to question the reality of both characters. With creative cinematography and visual effects spookily used, Under The Shadow casts a question over what is real and what isn’t.

7.5 / 10

“They travel on the wind”

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