Vertical Entertainment | Release Date: October 7, 2016
7.7
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 72 Ratings
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Positive:
58
Mixed:
10
Negative:
4
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10
bendgknJan 17, 2017
Western people who think this movie is "really scary" and "really successful", simply do not know what they are against. Try growing up in Middle East, with the Islamic horror elements regularly sprinkled throughout your life, and then watchWestern people who think this movie is "really scary" and "really successful", simply do not know what they are against. Try growing up in Middle East, with the Islamic horror elements regularly sprinkled throughout your life, and then watch this film. You would lose your mind, easily. Not that it matters, but as personal as the director can make, the horror of the film is personal for all the people in Middle East. This is the peek of the prestige horror for me, and I don't think I will ever be scared easily by something else. This movie ruined the genre for me, by destroying my naive belief that the horror industry is getting better, and it will get better. It won't. This is it. This is the end-point in horror. Expand
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8
SpangleOct 26, 2017
From Iranian director Babak Anvari comes Under the Shadow, a mesmerizing and terrifying horror film with great social critiques laced with terror. Set during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, Under the Shadow is a film that wears a variety ofFrom Iranian director Babak Anvari comes Under the Shadow, a mesmerizing and terrifying horror film with great social critiques laced with terror. Set during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, Under the Shadow is a film that wears a variety of hats, but somehow manages to have them all fit and work together. As a horror film, Under the Shadow delivers great supernatural thrills with a young girl who, as with all kids in horror movies, might as well be left behind to appease this supernatural thing because not only is she annoying, but she is already friends with the thing. Have to cut your losses at some point. As a critique of the oppression of women in Iran, Under the Shadow is smart with great symbolism and references to the plight of women in the nation as the country ditches the westernization of before and heads into full sharia law. As a war film, Under the Shadows nails the first-hand experience of living through the threats against Tehran by the Iraqis and the palpable fear whipping through the city. All combined, they make Under the Shadow a thought-provoking, thrilling, and USDA-certified piece of nightmare fuel.

From the first instant that the audience is introduced to Shideh (Narges Rashidi), we know she is different. Wearing a burqa as she pleads to be allowed to finish her education in medical school, Shideh is a woman who does not allow any oppression to stop her from pursuing her own rules. As the only woman in her apartment complex who drives, a semi-educated doctor who wishes to continue her education, and who works out to Jane Fonda VHS workout tapes on her illegal VHS player, Shideh is certainly liberated. In the country of Iran, she is a major exception amongst the women in her complex, being able to pursue many of the same career and life options as a man. However, her husband Iraj (Bobby Naderi) has mixed feelings, believing she should stay home and not be a doctor (which he says was just her mother's wish). He repeatedly accuses her of being a bad mother to their daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi), which is just part of her oppression by society. After accidentally walking outside without a burqa, she is arrested and told she should feel great shame for revealing herself in such a way, as women should want to wear burqas and fear being seen without one. As the horror of the film unravels, she gets a fake phone call that calls her a disgrace and a whore. Though she may be liberated, Shideh's individuality and freedom is under constant threat from the systemic oppression that is in place in her homeland.

Thus, it is no surprise that Under the Shadow smartly has her and Dorsa being attacked by a Djinn, a mythical Arabic being that preys on what people fear. Though Dorsa appears to be the target after her beloved doll goes missing - the djinn allegedly take something somebody loves before taking them - it is actually Shideh who has been chosen by the djinn. Taking the doll to get to Dorsa and with the djinn taking the form of a woman who fills Dorsa's head with thoughts of how Shideh is a bad mother and does not love her, the djinn attempts to woo Dorsa away from her mother and, later, it takes Shideh's science textbook that included a note of admiration from her recently deceased mother (in essence, it meant a lot to her). Thus, it is no surprise that the djinn takes the form of a burqa almost exclusively. The only time it does not is when it appears as a man. Together, the burqa and this man symbolize the way in which society is trying to restrain Shideh and pull her back into line. She must focus on motherhood and being a respectful woman, which means no driving and no school. Her place is in the home and this attacking burqa seeks to cement her - literally, as her feet get stuck in a cement-esque substance that Dorsa has to pull her out of - in her place. As mentioned in the film, djinn present themselves as what one fears the most. Dorsa is not afraid of burqas or women, as she is too young. Thus, she cannot be the one under attack. However, Shideh is afraid of burqas and fears losing her independence if a new government or culture push occurs in Iran that sees her lose what she has gained.

Thus, it is no surprise to see the film set during the war as it allows Anvari to lace the film with a great atmosphere. As missiles fly and bombs fall with sirens wailing to warn residents to hide, the tension and fear of the moment is the perfect setting for a being driven by fear to arrive and attack Shideh's family. As people run out of Tehran and Iraj begs his wife to leave the city as well, this palpable fear can be truly felt is brought to the forefront of the film with it being able to operate as a bit of a thriller with this first-hand account of the war. We see the attempts to run away, the fear, and the attempts to live life as if everything were still normal in the city.
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9
GinaKJan 23, 2017
Under the Shadow is a chilling film about the horrors of war, the suppression of women under the guise of religion, superstition, and the supernatural. Although occasionally incoherent, the skill of the actors, the director, and the entireUnder the Shadow is a chilling film about the horrors of war, the suppression of women under the guise of religion, superstition, and the supernatural. Although occasionally incoherent, the skill of the actors, the director, and the entire film crew is first-rate and comes through. The film works as supernatural horror at the same time as you feel the chaos and fear in everyday life during the Iran-Iraq War as experienced by people like the rest of us and not by presidents and kings. But this is not a political film. It is about human beings caught in a terrible situation where the horrors are many and complex and completely irrational – a wonderful combination of real and imagined horror. Expand
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6
davd123Jan 30, 2018
I'm not sure, probably I have missed something in this movie. The idea was clear, no hidden thoughts and actually I didn't felt like there were some surprises either. This movie really reminded me of Babadook the movie which I really love andI'm not sure, probably I have missed something in this movie. The idea was clear, no hidden thoughts and actually I didn't felt like there were some surprises either. This movie really reminded me of Babadook the movie which I really love and it was mostly likely the reason why I didn't love this movie because it is too similar somehow. But still this is likeable movie and if I would have watched this before Babadook I'm sure I would have loved it more. Expand
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8
alejandro970Mar 20, 2017
A rare bied frrom Mid- Orient. Fear of war blended wittly with haunting spook horror without the common, cheap tricks of genre. Good choice for a weekend.
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7
Benkoko11Feb 23, 2017
Anvari's war-time horror invokes memories of Del Torro's Pans Labyrinth while offering its own brand of mythic terror and allegorical social critique.
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8
TacoLord424Jul 13, 2019
An absolutely amazing foreign horror movie that does better than almost all horror movies today.
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