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It’s been quite the year for rising director Babak Anvari. His directorial debut “Under The Shadow” turned heads at Sundance all the way back in January, where it was snatched up by Netflix and spent much of the year earning acclaim at film festivals around the world. Just last month, Britain announced it had officially chosen the horror film as its official selection of the Best Foreign Language Oscar, a huge surprise that totally makes sense given the expert levels of craftsmanship and tension on display.
Set during the War of Cities in 1980s Tehran, “Under The Shadow” is part supernatural horror film, part mother-daughter drama, and the power of the film is how it uses one genre to effectively subvert the other. Narges Rashidi gives a bold lead performance as Shideh, a mother who refuses to abandon her home despite her husband’s protest and the increasingly violent missile strikes taking place all over the city. As tenants leave one by one, Shideh and her daughter find themselves isolated alone, forced to confront a presence that refuses to leave.
Back at its Sundance premiere, IndieWire Chief Film Critic Eric Kohn hailed “Under The Shadow” as the year’s first great horror movie. “Though it ultimately falls back on the usual pileup of scare tactics — floating things, gooey things, sudden forms emerging from the shadows — Anvari uses this toolbox in a pointed fashion,” he wrote in his A- review. “‘Under the Shadow’ smartly observes the emotions stirred up by a world defined by restrictions, and the terrifying possibility that they might be inescapable.”
With the movie earning strong reviews and ready to hit the Oscar season, it’s the perfect week to watch “Under The Shadow” on VOD. Need more reasons? IndieWire Film Editor Kate Erbland makes the case for the horror film in the video below.
Want to watch more indie films on VOD? Here are our 6 top picks of the month: