Iranian director Babak Anvari’s slow-burn drama suggests “The Babadook” by way of the Iranian New Wave. Set during the 1988 Iran-Iraq war, the movie finds a young mother guarding her daughter’s life as Iraqi bombs rain down on unsuspecting buildings at night. But that turns out to be the least of their problems when their apartment winds up haunted by a demonic presence that puts the daughter in its crosshairs. Solid jump scares are given fresh definition thanks to Anvari’s clever use of the minimalist setting, and the developing sense that the real terror lurks outside, where an oppressive government offers little in the way of respite. The scariest thing about “Under the Shadow” is that fleeing one monster doesn’t guarantee safety from a much larger one in the form of the authorities. —EK
Wait a second. Can the U.K. submit a film for consideration for the Best Foreign Language Oscar?
Sure. As long as it’s not in English. Take last year: Ireland, not Cuba, submitted Spanish-language film “Viva.” And France controversially chose the Turkish “Mustang” as its official entry over a list of top French auteurs.
If the submitting country paid for the movie and supplied key personnel, it doesn’t matter what language it’s in. The French produced “Mustang” and its director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, born in Turkey, is based in Paris. (Her next movie is English-language.) And the Irish produced “Viva,” even though director Paddy Breathnach shot with local actors in Havana.
And thus the UK’s selection organization, BAFTA, has submitted writer-director Babak Anvari’s well-reviewed Sundance mother-daughter drama “Under the Shadow” (October 7, Vertical Entertainment and XYZ Films), a 1988 Iran-Iraq War thriller shot in Farsi starring Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi and Bobby Naderi. Producers are Wigwam Films’ Lucan Toh, Oliver Roskill and Emily Leo.
The Academy deadline for foreign-language submissions is October 3.