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530 Ratings

Under the Shadow

Directed by Babak Anvari
United Kingdom, Iran, 2016
Horror, Thriller, Drama


As a mother and daughter struggle to cope with the terrors of the post-revolution, war torn Tehran of the 80s, a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home.

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Under the Shadow Directed by Babak Anvari

Awards & Festivals

Independent Spirit Awards

2017 | Nominee: Best International Film

Indiewire Critics' Poll

2016 | Nominee: Best First Feature

Probably the most impressive thing about Under the Shadow is how it manages to integrate the social and political realities of its chosen time and place into the demands of a genre narrative, unlike Stranger Things, which shamelessly fetishizes its period signifiers before imposing just enough strenuously present-tense political correctness to ensure that critics won’t mistake it for something authentically retrograde.
October 18, 2016
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While this modern, educated woman dismisses the “fairy tale” of the djinn, she also refuses to flee the city without Dorsa’s missing doll: it’s said if the djinn gets ahold of a treasured belonging, you’ll always be marked. This movie’s howling winds are borne of fears at once personal, political and mythic.
October 07, 2016
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When the background noise drops out, the silence is deafening. Something terrible is happening. The chaos in the outside world infiltrates the interior. “Under the Shadow,” a Farsi-language debut feature written and directed by Babak Anvari, creates a world where reality itself is suspect. In a year filled with great first features, add “Under the Shadow” to the list.
October 07, 2016
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What are people saying?

  • HKFanatic's rating of the film Under the Shadow

    Recalls "The Devil's Backbone" or "The Babadook" as a horror film where the social factors are arguably more oppressive than the supernatural elements—here, an authoritarian regime and threat of war frighten more than any invisible djinn. On some level, "Under the Shadow" is a bit too respectable and staid to truly scar the mind, but it's an assured debut for British-Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari.

  • msmichel's rating of the film Under the Shadow

    Effective horror thriller that brings to mind far better films but with a political parable that is giving the film some novelty. The horror of a woman's role in post revolution Iran certainly trumps the generic 'djinn' horror element and as the film settles into the familiar it loses what could have made it special. Narges Rashidi is very good here and young Avin Manshadi joins the ranks of annoying kids in horror.

  • dave gunn's rating of the film Under the Shadow

    I thought this was a successfully tense and creepy film. An otherwise tired haunting plot is made anew being put in a time and place that is by all means foreign to most of the horror audience, and somewhat Hollywood scares are exercised with such precision that they are actually scary. I found myself shook just as much by the supernatural elements as I did the historically accurate ones.

  • Renton47's rating of the film Under the Shadow

    The metaphor is a strong one, and I doubt the film could be readily embraced if the horror film here were transposed to another context. The problem is we spend so long with one film before being asked to accept another, and that other is a bit unremarkable. The biggest frights I had were from bombs going off. I want a Jane Fonda workout VHS.

  • smndvdcl's rating of the film Under the Shadow

    Spine-tingling Iranian spiritual horror that plays with concept of the curse of Djinn that haunts you once marked. The scares come from the uncanny - the real world and supernatural colliding in mundane suburban domestic milieus. A cinematic gift to 2016.

  • manybits's rating of the film Under the Shadow

    Frankly, this feels like the Iranian remake of The Babadook, itself a problematic, highly overrated film. The incessant symbolism (the new oppressive regime is the real monster) is heavy handed. Hollywood-style "scare tactics" are counterproductive. The little red car was probably the scariest thing in the entire movie. Inter nos, I'm not really sure about the post-horror movie genre. I miss the French extremists.

  • Henri de Corinth's rating of the film Under the Shadow

    If you appreciate the conceits of Zulawski's Possession (domestic horror that develops in part out of a specific time and place), this might be the film for you. Like Possession, it makes political statements without being completely obvious or preachy about them (shayateen as a kind of homonym for aspects of Khomeini's Iran).

  • Jason's rating of the film Under the Shadow

    Great title for a film about life and horror under a repressive totalitarian regime! There was a good movie here. They failed to locate it. Basically what we have is an impressive (and totally successful) effort to transpose a shitty, cliched contemporary Hollywood horror movie into the world of 1980s Tehran (during the Iran/Iraq war). Lots of predictable frights. At least the little kid is great. Amazing cheeks!

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