Ever since debuting in early January of this year at the Sundance Film Festival, Under the Shadow has been heralded as a stunning directorial debut from Iranian-born filmmaker Babak Anvari for its inventive take on classic horror genre tropes. Set in post-revolution Tehran in 1988, a young mother and daughter struggle to deal with the torments of their homeland’s immediate civil upheaval – just as a mysterious force of evil simultaneously begins its own assault upon their already-fragile sanity.
After her husband is drafted and called away to fight for the army, young mother and hopeful medical student Shideh (Narges Rashidi) is forced into a state of cloistered isolation after being accused of subversion by the government following the events of the Iran-Iraq war in Under the Shadow. What Shideh didn’t expect was an errant missile to crash land into her home, bringing with it an ancient Middle-Eastern spirit of the wind called Djinn.
In the footage featured above, Under the Shadow is cast against the light of a very real political drama that has its source in recent Middle-Eastern history, coupled with plenty of intimated moments of psychological horror throughout. Whether or not Djinn is an actual presence that will physically manifest itself in Anvari’s feature film is largely left unexplored – though the movie’s first trailer leaves plenty of room for viewers to begin anticipating the terrors soon to come.
Check out a few early reviews for Under the Shadow below:
Eric Kohn – IndieWire
“Under the Shadow smartly observes the emotions stirred up by a world defined by restrictions, and the terrifying possibility that they might be inescapable.”
Justin Chang – Variety
“Under the Shadow delivers the sort of sleek, swiftly paced freakout that streaming customers will gladly look past subtitles to experience.”
Fred Topel – Bloody Disgusting
“Under the Shadow has everything that makes great horror: a unique mythology that plagues us psychologically as well as viscerally, a confined setting (in this case culturally mandated confinement as well as physical), and good old scary monsters.”
Nigel M. Smith – The Guardian
“Under its scares, Under the Shadow serves as an impassioned allegory for female oppression – but Anvari doesn’t shortchange horror fans.”
With the critical establishment seemingly ready to give Anvari’s theatrical debut a ringing endorsement, viewers the world over are probably going to be hearing a lot about the foreign horror movie in the coming months. Under the Shadow could be another winning independent horror production to match the widespread acclaim of contemporaries such as It Follows and The Witch, making it a must watch movie of late 2016.
Under the Shadow will release October 7, 2016 in theaters and Video on Demand.