|Posted by email@example.com on October 21, 2016 at 12:40 AM|
Wanna Good Scream? Slip “Under the Shadow”
By Christine G. Adamo
Catch "Under the Shadow" at The Little Theater while you still can. Visit the TheLittle.org.
Her screams were unmistakable.
She was stunned. Mortified. Perhaps even terrified. She was? Me.
Sitting in L2, at The Little Theatre, I took in a pre-screening of the Persian film “Under the Shadow” (84 min.) with a handful of other brave folks. I’ll tell you now that I’m no fan of horror and am shocked that this entry only earned a PG-13 rating. Then again there were no sex scenes, no flashes of gratuitous nudity and nothing you could call overtly violent. Nothing obvious, that is.
I am, however, a fan of the undeniable realism, horrific undertones and stunning cinematography which characterize this film; a truly suspenseful social commentary. The 2016 release was written and directed by Babak Anvari. He's also known for the 2011 film “Two & Two,” described as “an allegory for the absurdness of dictatorship and tyranny and the resilience of the human spirit.”
His newest release ups the ante on all counts and, in the process, lifts the veil on the inherent horrors of patriarchy. Set in the late 1980s—as the Iran-Iraq War drew to a close—the film’s opening sequence sets the tone for what’s to come. We pan through the halls of an academic setting cast in stark white tones save for a raven-colored burqa worn by the protagonist, Shideh.
Narges Rashidi thrills as Shideh in "Under the Shadow" (directed by Anvari, 2016, 84 min.).
That role is played with vivid dimension by Narges Rashidi, whose own family fled Iran, in 1987, for Turkey and then Germany. It’s worth noting that Rashidi was named “Best Young Actress” at the N.Y. Int’l. Independent Film Video Festival, in 2007, for her role as Lolita in “A2Z.” If I had my way, she’d win an Oscar for her work in “Under the Shadow.”
The film’s synopsis describes a situation in which mother and daughter are struggling “to cope with the terrors of the post-revolution, war-torn Tehran of the 1980s (as) a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home.” That barely scratches at the surface of what lurks in every frame. Through a series of well-chosen camera angels and movements, we see Shideh’s world turn upside down.
A former medical student and cultural revolutionary, this young mother struggles to reconcile the relationships and forces which weigh on her: Her relationship with her mother, her relationship with her husband, her relationship with her daughter, her relationship with her neighbors, her relationship with institutions and her relationship with personal demons—each unyielding and oppressive of her ambitions, aspirations and actions.
A slew of contentious relationships ups the ante in "Under the Shadow," rated PG-13.
In the process, she struggles to hold it together both literally and figuratively.
A steady stream of pop culture references keeps viewers stuck in this '80s time capsule alongside Shideh, including a video clip of Yazoo’s 1982 hit song “Situation,” with its cautionary lyric: Don’t make a sound; just move out. Such references, however nostalgic, heighten the psychic and physical dangers women face as they reach for emancipation and empowerment.
“Under the Shadow” makes clear that—whether natural, supernatural or manmade—it is those forces that rest outside ourselves which are the most fearful of all, inducing anxiety and whipping up winds that put our dreams precariously out of reach. Brilliant, tense and suspenseful, this intellectual thriller takes horror to exciting new heights (a la "The Shining").
Several scenes in "Under the Shadow" surpass the scare level of "The Shining" even.
Catch “Under the Shadow” at The Little Theatre while you still can. Visit TheLittle.org for show times, which include a showing tonight (Thurs., Oct. 20), a matinee on Sat., Oct. 22, and another showing late Tues., Oct. 25.
And be sure to let me know if it makes you SOL. Uh, scream out loud.