HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Levelling, The
Dog Days
Annabelle Creation
Once Upon a Time in Shanghai
Sssssss
Woman in Question, The
Atomic Blonde
Doulos, Le
Okja
Bob le Flambeur
Wedding in White
Léon Morin, Priest
Napping Princess, The
Scorpions and Miniskirts
Berlin File, The
Beaches of Agnès, The
Blue Jeans
Garokawa - Restore the World
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Gleaners & I, The
Peter of Placid Forest
Golden Bird, The
War for the Planet of the Apes
One Sings, the Other Doesn't
Great Gilly Hopkins, The
Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon
Doom
Cléo from 5 to 7
Ballerina
Night Flight from Moscow
   
 
Newest Articles
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
The Melville Mood: His Final Two Films on The Melville Collection Blu-ray
Always Agnès: 3 from The Varda Collection Blu-ray
Re: Possession of Vehicles - Killer Cars, Trucks and a Vampire Motorcycle
The Whicker Kicker: Whicker's World Vols 5&6 on DVD
The Empress, the Mermaid and the Princess Bride: Three 80s Fantasy Movies
Witching Hour: Hammer House of Horror on Blu-ray
Two Sides of Sellers: The Party vs The Optimists
Norse Code: The Vikings vs The Long Ships
Over the Moon - Space: 1999 The Complete Series on Blu-ray Part 2
   
 
  Under the Shadow Louder Than BombsBuy this film here.
Year: 2016
Director: Babak Anvari
Stars: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi, Ray Haratian, Arash Marandi, Behi Djanati Atai, Hamid Djavadan, Soussan Farrokhnia, Aram Ghasemy, Nabil Koni, Bijan Daneshmand, Sajjad Delafrooz, Amir Ranjbar, Houshang Ranjbar
Genre: Horror
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Shideh (Narges Rashidi) lives in Iran with her husband Iraj (Bobby Naderi) and young daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) just as the war with Iraq is building to an even more violent and destructive climax, with bombs raining down on the capital Tehran, where they have an apartment. Her mother has died recently, and she has been pondering that her heart's desire was to see Shideh become a doctor, so she has been to see if she can continue her studies at university. However, she is turned down flat because thanks to a combination of the revolution in 1979 and her political involvement with liberal causes at the time, the ultra-conservative climate will not allow her to meet her aspirations. Somehow this trauma signals all will not be right from now on...

I mean, obviously when missiles are being fired at your home then it's safe to say things are not right already, but with Under the Shadow there was a growing sense of the supernatural encroaching on the characters. When Iraj is sent away to the front line when he is doled out his annual conscription, as if that were not upsetting enough something else seems to move in, and writer and director Babak Anvari was reluctant to pin it down in anything but the vaguest terms. He did give it a name, though: the djinn, an ancient Middle Eastern spirit of malevolent intent, as described in the Koran therefore everyone in the Tehran of the film will know exactly what is being referred to, and how dire circumstances could become.

Really this was your basic haunted sceptic movie where the unbeliever - here the practical Shideh, whose medical background means she is rationally-minded no matter how thwarted her studies were - is subjected to an ordeal that has no other explanation than it must be paranormal, though equally trauma might create the same impression in her mind. We had seen such movies and television increase with each passing year of the twenty-first century as a suspicion of science took hold, especially documentaries purporting to present factual evidence of the uncanny which mixed fiction and the genuine and presented them as entertainment (but you were invited to believe them anyway). So this film was potentially struggling to stand out in a crowded field of competition.

On one hand, its thunder had been stolen somewhat by the well-regarded New Zealand horror The Babadook, on the other Under the Shadow sought to be its own thing by its setting and allusions to the political situation in many of the cast and crew's homeland of Iran. There was a scene late on where Shideh flees her apartment in terror without pausing to put on her chador and is caught by the authorities who are far less interested in her distress than the fact she has "exposed" herself by venturing out into the streets with an uncovered head; it's not a major sequence but neatly displayed how a genre movie can inform as well as divert if the filmmakers sneak in some history or social commentary. Although filmed in Jordan with a team largely based in the United Kingdom, its heart was defiantly Iranian.

Fair enough, that was the instruction and information element that was deftly woven into the plot, but this was billed as a horror, presumably that was what most of those who made a point of watching it wanted to see, so did that deliver? Although there was a contingent of the audience for whom this did nothing at all, as was the case with every half-decent horror movie to be scrutinised by an unimpressed army of internet opinion, for a decent-sized section Under the Shadow was judged not only a success as far as sustaining the attention, it was actually pretty damn scary as well. Anvari used his effects sparingly until the very end, but he worked up a freaky atmosphere which may be a shared madness between Shideh and Dorsa, left alone to feed on one another's unease, may be the pressure of the war affecting everyone in the block, or alternatively the djinn may be real and exploiting both of those things. The director was not too proud to use jump scares, but these were extremely high quality, as was his skill at creating disquiet in the attentive viewer; for a feature debut, this was a superb accomplishment. Music by Gavin Cullen and Will McGillivray.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 319 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Robin Askwith
Mark Wahlberg
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
Keith Rockmael
Paul Shrimpton
Ian Phillips
Jensen Breck
   

 

Last Updated: