Under the Shadow takes place in Tehran in the 1980’s during the Iraq/Iran war. Our main character, Shideh, is a housewife with a husband and young daughter. Shideh lives two lives, public and private. She exercises to Jane Fonda workout videos in her apartment, but must hide the VCR when outsiders come because VCRs are illegal. When she goes outside she has to cover her head.
After her mother’s death, Shideh tries to resume her medical studies. Her husband Iraj thinks she’s doing it because her mom wanted her to be a doctor. It’s a moot point because Shideh’s political activities in the 1970’s mean that no medical school will accept her. She’s pissed off about it, especially when Iraj tells her that maybe it’s for the best. Soon afterwards, Iraj is drafted to fight in the Iran-Iraq war. Iraq is bombing Tehran. Iraj wants Shideh and their daughter Dorsa to leave the city and live with his mother, but she won’t leave.
The djinn makes its entrance with a flair. A missile hits Shideh’s apartment complex but doesn’t explode and that’s when the weird shit starts. Dorsa’s doll vanishes. Shideh has bad dreams, and then starts seeing strange things out of the corners of her eyes. Under the Shadows has a slow build-up. The djinn takes its time revealing itself, but what’s scarier is the world Shideh lives in, where you can be flogged for not wearing a headscarf in public.
Under the Shadows has a few good jump scares, including one that made me shriek out loud. This is definitely an art house horror film. Shideh is human, and she is under an incredible amount of pressure. That said, not all the tension between mother and daughter is because of the djinn. This is a movie where the personal horror and the monster merge.
Under the Shadows is available on Netflix Streaming and is definitely worth a watch.