Starring: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi, Ray Haratian, Arash Maranda.
I love horror films, I love films that creep me out, unsettle and put me on edge, that have me studying the screen to find were the next NOPE moment is coming from. Invariably these days, modern mainstream horror is terrible. It is hashed together quickly, painted with broad strokes for mass consumption and without due care. The budgets are usually so low that they will make their money back anyway so why bother with a script, people who can act or actual scares right? No, I am constantly on the lookout for a horror movie to surprise and entice me with an original and well executed prospect. Recently my interest has been piqued by a few which I have yet to catch, German creeper Goodnight Mommy and American supernatural tale The Autopsy Of Jane Doe are both in my sights, as was this British/Iranian effort from last year.
Set during the 1980’s conflicts in Tehran, the story focuses on an apartment block, home to medical student Shideh, her absent husband Iraj and daughter Dorsa. When a missile strike hits their building killing an upstairs neighbour, the already frazzled nerves of the mother and daughter are put to the test with a series of increasingly unexplainable and disturbing events.
This set up for this film is a work of genius. To put a horror film in the setting of a war zone was an inspired choice, the high tension and fear of imminent death already putting the characters minds in a constant state of unease and then to factor in the supernatural element throwing up all kinds of questions and keeping the characters and even the audience second guessing. It is a master class in horror writing expertly delivered by a capable director & cast. Utilising sounds, dreamlike surreal imagery and classic jump scares to create a feeling of intense foreboding.
If you are of a slightly more discerning taste when it comes to your horror films, if you seeks your kicks further afield than the cookie cutter Hollywood output of Bloomhouse, this film may be right up your street. Smart, scary and a complete surprise. It ticked all the boxes for me.
Under The Shadow is currently available to stream on Netflix.