Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Babak Anvari's, Under The Shadow

of 5 viewers "Liked" "Under The Shadow" (Iran, 2016)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

 Dabbles - "That damn Lord Battle tricked me into watching a ghost story. I was so anxious/scared it was unbearable... but that being said awesome. So many visuals and practical effects used. The narrative drove this movie to good places of understanding of its characters. And only at an hour and a half? So worth the watch." - 5 Stars

Lord Battle - “Under The Shadow is the maternal dilemmas of The Babadook given to a full grown Nancy Thompson whose Elm Street is in Tehran at the end of the Iran-Iraq war, and Freddy has returned ala the finale of Dr. Strange Love. I realize that this blurb might be a little multi-layered but I couldn't think of a better way to discuss such a rich and rewarding ghost story!" - 5 Stars

Math Mage - Spoilers - "Suspenseful, innovative ghost story. Specifically: the ghost (as far as our heroine can perceive it) takes the form of things that threaten her physically (a naked guy), socially (an animated burka), and emotionally (her husband insulting her). It's an inverse ghost story. Instead of a young family moving into a new home, the heroine becomes isolated as neighbors flee the city. Worse, the ghost comes to them! The better of the two feminist horror films we've seen this month." - 4.5 Stars

Huntress - "Under the Shadow is an atmospheric masterpiece filled with interesting characters and unfamiliar territory. The fact that this story ties into actual events makes it even more unnerving. And coming from a different culture gave this film a narrative that was very new to me, which made for a refreshing, different story." - 5 Stars

The Impostor - "Easily one of the best horror films of the year. Under The Shadow builds steady tension throughout and doesn't let up. Even after its final scene Shadows kept me thinking and spooked out at the same time, which not many horror films can do today. Extremely well acted and directed with effective scares. I'm looking forward to what director Babak Anvari does next and hoping for a bluray release in the near future. This is a definite must buy. Overall I highly recommend watching this film, you won't be disappointed." - 5 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

The haunted house is a story device that is designed to test the traditional family unit, with ghosts often representing a dark past hidden by the locals or even just the real estate agent. The thing is haunted houses are traditionally something naive people wander into, often dispute warnings and better judgment but this isn’t the case in Under The Shadow. Babak Anvari’s script actually sheds some light on why ghosts appear to the characters they do and the answer is as simple as it is profound, "fear and anxiety."

Through reading a book on Djinn, Shideh finds a line of text that says the Djinn may appear wherever fear and anxiety lives (I'm paraphrasing). This basically is an elegant variation of what Paranormal Activity had earlier stated when the psychic said the demon feeds on negative energy. And what causes more fear and anxiety than uprooting your life and moving into a new house? But sometimes one can become haunted because of an ill-made purchase (or theft). This theme is usually portraying a “Curiosity Killed the Cat” lesson (Hellraiser, Dead Silence) or a punishment for ignoring religion (The Exorcist, Possession). Under the Shadow definitely falls in the latter category.

The religious and political aspects of Under The Shadow may seem a little overwhelming but Babak Anvari does a good job of setting the scene even for the ignorant, which I include myself among. In an effort to learn about the events Babak has so poetically brought to my attention, I did some light internet research and came across an article that ties in so well with the film it’s scary (no pun intended). Now I originally wanted to pull some quotes from this article and compare them with the film but I think Babak Anvari’s main goal with Under The Shadow was to raise awareness about a tragedy so I’d like to honor that by asking you to read through this amazing article.

Since I know many of you will humor me and take a quick look but instantly go "TLDR" I pulled a quote from the bottom of the write up that just had to be seen;

"According to his doctors, his illness had largely been caused by the stress and anxiety of losing my brother."

This stood out to me, because the one thing that people assume is that the illness is purely supernatural, yet here is another instance of a long term illness brought on by fear and anxiety.


Under The Shadow is an amazingly effective horror movie, film, and artistic expression of a moment in history. There is much to discuss about this film and I would love to carry on discussions with anyone looking to have one. Please feel free to contact us and chat!

- Lord Battle

If anyone knows who the artist is please contact us so I can give them credit!
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not effect the rating. The poster used above was pulled off an article on google image.

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