Horrorfest 2019 Presents: Under The Shadow (2016, Babak Anvari)

Unfortunately for Shideh and her daughter Dorsa in Under The Shadow, the war between Iran and Iraq is the least of their worries. An evil spirit called a djinn for reasons unknown wants her daughter, and refuses to stop harassing them in their apartment. Also since the bombing has intensified it has become difficult for them to leave, although her husband wants her to after he is shipped to the front lines. What makes things even more problematic is that Dorsa doesn’t want to leave without her doll, which goes missing. This film has a really strong creepy undercurrent that makes the dramatic scenes are the more intense and real to the viewer.

Narges Rashidi gives a captivating performance as Shiedeh, who doubts what is going on with her daughter until things spiral out of control. I liked the subplot of her dealing with her inability to continue her medical career due to the country’s oppressive policies, and how this leads to lingering self-doubt about her abilities. Furthermore, the djinn is used sparingly to great effect, particularly in many unnerving moments and a scene that is very scary. I loved how the last act is beyond freaky and that Under The Shadow has scenes that remind me why ghost and evil spirit movies are often the scariest ones. Having this movie paired with The Babadookas a double bill would be a fantastic idea, and funny enough I viewed both movies thanks to Netflix Instant Viewing. 

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