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Under the Shadow (2016)

Review by CJ

Director:
Babak Anvari

Starring:
Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi

Running time:
84 minutes

Watch this if you liked:
The Babadook, Poltergeist, The Conjuring

 

In 1980s war torn Tehran, Shideh (Rashidi) and her daughter Dorsa (Manshadi) are left alone in their apartment while patriarch Iraj (Naderi) is deployed to perform medical duties in an area of combat. In addition to dealing with regular air raids, fleeing neighbours and her husband’s insistence that she take Dorsa to his parents, Shideh begins to suspect there is a supernatural entity stalking her daughter.

When I started watching Under the Shadow on Netflix, it automatically played the English dubbing. I found this to be quite distracting so switched it back to its native Persian with English subtitles. This is of course a personal preference but one I felt worth mentioning is available.

The atmosphere in Under the Shadow is controlled with precision to maintain varying levels of tension throughout the film. The tension is broken by the occasional jump scare but none of the scares are particularly gruesome or frightening. The horror comes from the sense of isolation and foreboding that is built as we follow these characters. This results in a film that is a slow burn in terms of horror but it is transfixing nonetheless and never feels like it drags.

The introductions and backstories for the characters in Under the Shadow are delivered quickly which allows the ball to start rolling for the actual story early on in the film. While the viewer isn’t bogged down in their backstories, the characters are well formed and likeable enough that you do actually care about what is happening to them. Shideh especially is a deeply flawed character but this makes her feel realistic and human instead of just a carbon copied Stepford wife and mother.

Overall Under the Shadow is an enjoyable horror film with a solid plot, good characters and great atmosphere. I would recommend it to fans of atmospheric horror or classic supernatural horror.

Rating:

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