SpectreFest 1: Under the Shadow

In the throes of the missile strikes that plagued 80s Iran, the struggle of a mother (Shideh) and her young daughter (Dorsa) becomes a fractured and vulnerable target. With Dorsa’s doctor father sent off to war, the two are left to cope in a building that’s just been hit by a mysteriously undetonated missile which has killed their upstairs neighbor, creepily introducing an unshakable insufficiency to Shideh’s grasp of herself and her child. Increasingly isolated parent and child–with a relationship suddenly thrown out of balance–certainly doesn’t sound like a reinvention of the horror-wheel, but Under the Shadow elegantly avoids the cliché with its War of the Cities setting. Rather than a mere backdrop for a haunting, wartorn Tehran serves up a layer of historical trauma, thickly laid out upon Shideh and Dorsa’s familial tension, in an unnerving collapse of intimate relation with the terrors of national instability. Director Babak Anvari has spun a debut film that haunts not only with the urgency and requisite, jolting scares, but a haunting portrait of post-revolutionary female oppression.

Dir. Babak Anvari, 2016, DCP, 84 min.

Watch the trailer!