Under the Shadow

Dir: Babak Anvari, Iran

This was both frightening and thought-provoking. It’s set in 1988 towards the end of the debilitatingly long Iran-Iraq war. The central character is also ground down by post-revolution repression and the obliteration of her hopes of becoming a doctor. Her young daughter says that there is a djinn in the building, brought in by an Iraqi missile. And perhaps there is – but perhaps the djinn is also/just a metaphor/projection of the stress of war and repression taking form in their heads. Perhaps this is how demons and ghosts are created psychologically. The final shot of what the woman and child have left behind in the possession of the djinn suggests that they will not escape the after-effects.

It was brilliantly done, except for the depiction of the djinn. As usual I started off with tightly closed eyes and then peeked to see if it was safe to watch . . . and realised that I was looking at a billowing piece of fabric. Maybe it’s just a cultural thing – djinns don’t figure in my back-catalogue of things that go bump in the night . . . but a scary sheet, ffs!

Now had it been a red-hooded dwarf, I really would have had nightmares!

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