British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) has given us the screening of ‘Under the Shadow’ this January, having recently won 3 awards.
About – A mother and daughter try and cope with the bombing of the post-revolution in Tehran (Iran) of the 1980’s. Where a mysterious evil spirt begins to haunt the block of flats.
Babak Anvari is a British Iranian director, currently located in London. His debut feature comes this terrifying horror story ‘Under the Shadow’. From the first screening, you cannot tell this is his first feature, it is an astonishing piece of film. Every element has been reached from horror, relationships, on-screen emotions and a believable storyline. Babak Anvari, won two awards at the BIFA awards in 2016 with Best director and best screenplay, for ‘Under the Shadow’ this was well deserved.
Shideh (Narges Rashidi), is the mother of Dorsa. She tries to take care of her daughter while trying to become a nurse. She also doesn’t want to leave her flat due to the terror of her hometown Tehran. Narges Rashidi portrays Shideh in a stunning performance. She engages us into her role like we know this character personally. This is done by the emotional roller-coaster that Narges brings to this performance. By doing so, this makes us feel that on-screen relationship with her throughout.
Dorsa (Avin Manshadi), is the child that sees these evil spirts around the flat. She is a very ordinary child that plays with toys and tells stories to her mother. Avin Manshadi portrays Dorsa in a superb performance. Avin looks very comfortable within the first two acts and then her true acting methods were performed and you see the acting that we were waiting for. Avin also won best supporting actress in the BIFA awards, this is very extraordinary as ‘Under the Shadow’ was her debut performance in a, feature or short film.
‘Under the Shadow’ is a true horror, it has a very strong narrative, which explains the horror element. This makes us have an on-screen relationship with the two main characters. When the spirits do eventually become visible in the third act, they are already being established to the audience. This doesn’t feel like it has been put onto us, which a lot of horror films do these days. For sure, ‘Under the Shadow’ is brilliantly done in all aspects of the film to create all these points.
There were flaws, however, that is not a surprise from a debut director. Certain scenes could have been produced more professionally, they were points where it looked animated. When a green screen had been used, it was easy to notice these small flaws. However, don’t let the flaws put you off. All it needed was more funding to achieve the professional look.
‘Under the Shadow’ is a brilliant horror from this debut director. The narrative is perfectly done for us to understand the characters and make us have an on-screen relationship with. The spirits don’t seem forced upon us, it came natural to the storyline. Performances from the two main characters were outstanding, we get an emotional attraction to them, which is ideal for the storyline to flow.