I am not a fan of horror movies. Nothing against the genre, I just don’t particularly like it. But even I found Under the Shadow riveting and frightening. Although it is the entry from Great Britain, the characters speak Farsi because the story takes place in Tehran during the final year of the catastrophic Iran-Iraq War. The story is inspired by director Babak Anvari’s own life growing up in those frightening times.
Shideh is denied entry into medical school because of her earlier political activities, so she is forced to stay at home with her little daughter, Dorsa, while her husband, who is already a doctor, is sent to the front lines to take care of injured soldiers. Under the strict Islamic regime, Shideh must close the curtains before watching her bootleg Jane Fonda exercise video.
As bombs fall on Tehran and a missile lands in her building without exploding, the inhabitants of the building begin fleeing the city. And strange things begin happening. Dorsa’s favorite doll disappears. Shideh’s Jane Fonda tape ends up in the garbage. Is a djinn taking possession of Dorsa? Shideh, in defiance of her husband, refuses to leave. However, let’s just say that it gets scarier and scarier and creepier and creepier.
As I said, I’m not a horror fan, but this is one well-made film on all levels.