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Under the Shadow

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United Kingdom, Jordan, Qatar · 2016
Rated PG-13 · 1h 24m
Director Babak Anvari
Starring Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi, Ray Haratian
Genre Drama, Horror, Thriller, War

After Shideh's building is hit by a missile during the Iran-Iraq War, a superstitious neighbor warns that the missile was cursed and carrying malevolent Middle-Eastern spirits. Gradually, Shideh realizes that some entity is attempting to possess her daughter. Shideh must confront these forces if she is to save her daughter and herself…

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What are critics saying?


The A.V. Club by A.A. Dowd

There’s still something exciting about seeing familiar tropes placed in an unfamiliar context — in this case, a nation ravaged by violent conflict and stifled by fundamentalist law.


The Hollywood Reporter by David Rooney

Anvari deftly builds and sustains tension throughout, crafting a horror movie that respects genre conventions...while firmly establishing its own distinctive identity.


IndieWire by Eric Kohn

Under the Shadow smartly observes the emotions stirred up by a world defined by restrictions, and the terrifying possibility that they might be inescapable.


The Film Stage by John Fink

Under The Shadow is a rare genre film of emotional and political complexity, one that’s well-acted and directed, even if the psychological horror is front and center.


Variety by Justin Chang

Slyly merging a familiar but effective genre exercise with a grim allegory of female oppression, Babak Anvari’s resourceful writing-directing debut grounds its premise in something at once vaguely political and ineluctably sinister.


CineVue by Martyn Conterio

Under the Shadow is not only perfectly paced, the storytelling and plotting is emotionally gripping. The director also uses setting and location, composition and framing like a master of horror.


Consequence of Sound by Michael Roffman

The Iranian filmmaker wisely uses the genre to work through themes of oppression, rebellion, and femininity without ever politicizing the film. This is prestige horror, the kind with tricks and treats that arrive with purpose and linger for years.


Screen International by Wendy Ide

The culturally specific elements that Iran-born, British-based first time writer-director Babak Anvari brings to the picture makes this a distinctive spin on a familiar premise.

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