Under the Shadow (2016)

18 Mar 2016

thought provoking thinking
empathy and sympathy

fresh perspective
layered meaning (good for over-thinking/multiple viewing)

excellent camera work
immersive atmosphere
fitting soundtrack

acceptable suspense (developments predicted minutes before)

intense action
realistic effects

untraceable (natural) acting


more than what meets the eye.

but first from a pure horror film perspective: almost perfectly believable in the sense that most of the “supernatural” could all be explained by some form of dream or halucination due to stress. except mom’s earlier resistance for moving felt like a bad choice just like what teens on a vacation in a forest.

there is certainly a political message. what Djin does in taking away one’s most precious belonging is a great working metaphor for the shattered dreams of women in Iran after the revolution due to the resurgence of extreme conservatism. The ending is saddening: the mother and daughter leaves (relatively) unscathed physically, their aspirations are left to be consumed. For the mother is the symbolic medical dictionary, for the daughter is her precious doll’s head.

below is a summary in Chinese written for my mom:

昨天晚上看的SXSW电影,Under the Shadow,讲的是一个母亲与女儿在1979变革后两伊战争期间的Tahran的一个恐怖故事。表面看起来也许浅显,但是细想会领会到故事讲述的其实是作为母亲所承受的压迫。故事里的母亲因为年轻时的‘不良’左倾因素而不能圆已过世外婆对她的期望——去完成医学院的学习。而丈夫无奈之下却说maybe that’s for the best。但是为了能继续保持行医资格,丈夫却在动荡的紧要关头去前线服军役,落下母女去选择要么留在危险的城里要么或是走到遥远的奶奶家(当然那里没有导弹危机自有家庭矛盾)。为了一丝能自立的尊严,母亲决定留在Tahran。可是导弹长了导演的眼,准准的砸到她们所住的楼栋里。虽然母女自身无碍,可女儿的玩偶不见了,得来莫名的低烧。这下女儿找不来玩偶就死赖不愿离开城内,而各种压力之下的母亲就开始一个噩梦接一个。各种迹象指向一个传说中的Djinn;它会抓住你最爱的东西然后你就会如同被他附身而不得安宁。找遍犄角旮旯也不见玩偶的母亲终于想迷信低头,求Djinn去附身到她而放过女儿。于是外婆送给母亲的那本医用辞典就莫名的不见了。而字典的抽屉剩下的竟然是玩偶的‘残躯’。这引起一些母女矛盾但终究母亲修补了玩偶。但是在又一次空袭中,母亲在下楼到防空洞的途中莫名听到女儿在顶楼呼救,几番折腾回来才发现女儿一直跟她下了楼而终于被Djinn所锁定,意味着女儿自然才是母亲的最爱,而不是再有意义的一本死书。一番挣扎后,终于母女得以开车离开,好像逃脱魔爪……