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Old 09-25-17, 12:00 AM   #1
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"Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge





Under the Shadow (2016)



Selected by pacaway



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ON NETFLIX

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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

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Last edited by Chad; 09-30-17 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 10-19-17, 08:13 AM   #2
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Bumping today's film.
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Old 10-19-17, 10:06 AM   #3
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

At first I didn’t understand why the mom didn’t just leave and buy the daughter a better nicer doll; but if this is a film primarily about family in times of distress and the possessions we have to leave behind it makes sense. The mother couldn't let herself be a failure any more than she was as a medical student. Interesting tying Djinn to fear and anxiety from wartime, usually political/social allegories are hard to pull off because equating something fantastic to something political can seem forced but it works well here. The husband in her bed was creepy, there are more jump scares than I expected - it seems left open ended if the husband is alive. The disheveled home is interesting and adds to a sense of chaos beyond any of the relatively subtle Djinn imagery. Never ever trust a kid in a hoodie, nothing good comes from that.

The wind sounds are creepy but they might have been over used a little because there were times I was aware of this strange wind sound that didn't quite fit.
If only our tenants would pay what they owe we could shut this place down and leave - some landlords.

I wonder if there's any cultural themes I might have missed not being as familiar with Iran and Iraq much less in the 1980s. At first I thought this would be more about the bomb but I really don't understand how the bomb was significant at all other than as window dressing to tie it to the setting more (ok, supposedly the bomb carried the Djinn but not necessarily and family distress was obvious with the dad gone anyway). The taped windows helped with some imagery and a sense of just trying to hold things/family together. The mute boy who somehow knows more is going on is also curious, he's an odd omnipotent all knowing being that is somehow fighting the Djinn in mute kid form (?).

They totally left it open for a sequel.

Overall I really enjoyed the film, it was a good slow burn horror with better than average depth and and interesting setting.
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Last edited by Undeadcow; 10-19-17 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 10-19-17, 10:16 AM   #4
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

And about the doll ... kids get attached to very particular things. THATíS the doll she loves. Buying a better one just doesnít cut it.

I thought the Iranian setting gave an interesting twist of putting the mother between a rock and a hard place. Flee the djinn into the street at night and you put yourself at risk from the Muslim extremists.
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Old 10-19-17, 10:23 AM   #5
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

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Originally Posted by brainee View Post
And about the doll ... kids get attached to very particular things. THAT’S the doll she loves. Buying a better one just doesn’t cut it.

I thought the Iranian setting gave an interesting twist of putting the mother between a rock and a hard place. Flee the djinn into the street at night and you put yourself at risk from the Muslim extremists.
The 'take me instead' segment was so disjointed it was hard to tell if it really happened or some form of dream, also it wasn't clear why the mom would start negotiating with forces she didn't acknowledge. Maybe that hints that the mother (an otherwise rational person interested in medicine who would not admit belief in supernatural, especially at first) actually felt that the Djinn was real and couldn't leave the doll because it opened them up to supernatural invasion. It seems like at the end the mother maybe makes an especially conscious choice to substitute herself by not claiming the medical text (after fighting so much for the doll) but still wrestling with her secular view of physical escape.

Good point about the muslim extremists, that segment didn't quite fit but it makes sense inserting the human element of risk and is nicely satirical (martyrs for our values).

The more I think about it the more merit this film seems to have, probably would be worth a re-watch down the line.
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Old 10-19-17, 12:33 PM   #6
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

This was my second viewing and while i thought it was technically well done i didn't find much to hold my interest.
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Old 10-19-17, 02:57 PM   #7
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Pretty much what undeadcow and Braine said. The different setting kept me intrigued enough to enjoy a good slow build sort of a film.
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Old 10-19-17, 06:22 PM   #8
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

^^ What he said. I can't add much to their analysis except to say I also enjoyed the movie and that the different setting and culture made it that much more interesting. About the mute boy, I don't think he was a supernatural being. It's just that he's been through a lot (seeing his parents killed in front of him) and I think he probably had experienced something like this before if not to himself than someone he knew. Maybe he came from a less urban area where beliefs like this are taken more seriously. I think someone mentioned where he came from but it didn't register with me.
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Old 10-19-17, 07:31 PM   #9
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

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Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
They totally left it open for a sequel.

Overall I really enjoyed the film, it was a good slow burn horror with better than average depth and and interesting setting.
Yep they did leave it open for a sequel. Perhaps since the djinn has the doll's head the djinn can control the little girl? So many ways to go with that. I'm not usually into possession / hauntings with but a couple exceptions this being one of them.


On another note the opening statement it mad the statement that the Iraq-Iran war is considered the longest conventional war in history which lasted 8 years. The U.S. and its allies have been involved in a war with Iraq since 2003...a matter of 14 years, and still going.
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Old 10-19-17, 08:32 PM   #10
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

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Originally Posted by omike View Post
...About the mute boy, I don't think he was a supernatural being. It's just that he's been through a lot (seeing his parents killed in front of him) and I think he probably had experienced something like this before if not to himself than someone he knew. Maybe he came from a less urban area where beliefs like this are taken more seriously. I think someone mentioned where he came from but it didn't register with me.
I wonder if the movie was implying that the Djinn came to the building because of the boy (because of whatever backstory he has) but then focused on the girl instead, maybe because the boy initially had the charm.
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Old 10-19-17, 09:47 PM   #11
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

^^ Good point. If so it might have picked the girl over others in the building because, in addition to turmoil from the war, she sensed her mother's mood (about not getting back in the university) and she was very upset that her father had to leave.
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Old 10-19-17, 11:36 PM   #12
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Thought it was decent, has some good scares. Was slow to get going, but once it did, it was good.
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Old 10-20-17, 01:07 AM   #13
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

This was the first film I've watched for this year's Challenge that actually frightened me. I thought that it was great.

To address an earlier question about the doll, leaving the doll's head most definitely left the daughter open to further attacks. Somebody in the film said something about how the djinn steal a belonging that means a lot to you, and once that happens, you're theirs. Unless you get the belonging back, you'll never get rid of the djinn, because they follow you.

I also don't think that the missile brought the djinn; the daughter said something about seeing people in the apartment very early in the film, even before the dad was shipped out. I don't think that the boy had anything to do with bringing them, either; I just felt that he was attuned to their presence and wanted to help keep the daughter safe.
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Old 10-20-17, 04:25 AM   #14
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Interesting that Netflix lists the language as Persian, I thought it was known as Farsi now, but my knowledge of that area is not great.
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Old 10-20-17, 04:48 AM   #15
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Does anybody know why they tape X's on the windows?
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Old 10-20-17, 05:35 AM   #16
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Yeah, this is the first movie that made me gasp loudly at something. That scared the hell out of me.
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Old 10-20-17, 08:59 AM   #17
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
Does anybody know why they tape X's on the windows?
The taped 'X's are so if there is a bombing and the windows break it'll keep glass shattering to a minimum.
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Old 10-20-17, 10:16 AM   #18
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

I caught this last year sometime, and was looking forward to revisiting this one. I've always been curious if a film like this one, or A Girl Walks Home at Midnight, are shown in Iran? It seem very critical at times of the Iranian government, and I would think this is unacceptable.
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Old 10-20-17, 12:01 PM   #19
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I've always been curious if a film like this one, or A Girl Walks Home at Midnight, are shown in Iran? It seem very critical at times of the Iranian government, and I would think this is unacceptable.
I doubt they can be shown in Iran. The director of this movie is an expat living in England (and this movie is a British production). The director of "A Girl" is just of Iranian descent (but born in England and lives in Southern California).
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Old 10-20-17, 12:40 PM   #20
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

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Originally Posted by brainee View Post
I doubt they can be shown in Iran. The director of this movie is an expat living in England (and this movie is a British production). The director of "A Girl" is just of Iranian descent (but born in England and lives in Southern California).
Maybe that helps explain why the Persian version didn't sound any better than the English dub to my ears?
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Old 10-20-17, 12:48 PM   #21
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The taped 'X's are so if there is a bombing and the windows break it'll keep glass shattering to a minimum.
Thanks, all I could think of was Mulder trying to reach out to Mr. X.

I really liked this film. I've always been fond of horror films that ground the narrative in real life horror, like The Devil's Backbone. The constant threat of bombing, sirens, and hiding out in the basement made me anxious long before spooky stuff started happening, and the final 40 minutes of the movie scared me numerous times.

I also appreciated the setting of the movie and how we can sometimes take our freedoms for granted. I was invested in Shideh's character and the turmoil she faces between being a good domesticated housewife versus pursuing a satisfying career.

Did anybody else the spirits were actually going after the mother, and the medical book was her "doll?"
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Old 10-20-17, 01:05 PM   #22
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Maybe there's a remote possibility that the Djinn is the disembodied spirits of the father trying to reach out. The plot sent the dad away to die in battle, it's unclear if that was thematic to just show that the mom had all the responsibility now or if there was more to it. I don't really think that Djinn is the dad but that aspect was maybe un-necessarily bleak.
Quote:
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Did anybody else the spirits were actually going after the mother, and the medical book was her "doll?"
One of the things I enjoyed most about the open ending was that the Djinn seemed to be out for the mom (at least towards the end) but also (because of the doll's head) had the option of going for the daughter. I thought the Djinn had settled on the mom but then it's vague which one was the preferred target. That's a good point that maybe the Djinn was only after the mom to begin with and was just manipulating the daughter to get to the mother's precious text.
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Old 10-20-17, 01:17 PM   #23
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

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Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
One of the things I enjoyed most about the open ending was that the Djinn seemed to be out for the mom (at least towards the end) but also (because of the doll's head) had the option of going for the daughter. I thought the Djinn had settled on the mom but then it's vague which one was the preferred target. That's a good point that maybe the Djinn was only after the mom to begin with and was just manipulating the daughter to get to the mother's precious text.
There were also a few moments where the Djinn almost seemed protective of the daughter and accusing Shideh of being unfit to raise her. This was most likely manipulation, but Shideh could be a bit neglectful at times, and she knew it. So that was an effective way to get under her skin. I think those elements made it more than a run of the mill spook-fest.
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Old 10-20-17, 08:22 PM   #24
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Watching this yesterday was a nice discovery of a slow burn film and this reaction from DaveyJoe is exactly how I felt overall .

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
I really liked this film. I've always been fond of horror films that ground the narrative in real life horror, like The Devil's Backbone. The constant threat of bombing, sirens, and hiding out in the basement made me anxious long before spooky stuff started happening, and the final 40 minutes of the movie scared me numerous times.

I also appreciated the setting of the movie and how we can sometimes take our freedoms for granted. I was invested in Shideh's character and the turmoil she faces between being a good domesticated housewife versus pursuing a satisfying career.
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Old 10-21-17, 06:17 AM   #25
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Re: "Under the Shadow" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by numbercrunch View Post
This was my second viewing and while i thought it was technically well done i didn't find much to hold my interest.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
This was the first film I've watched for this year's Challenge that actually frightened me. I thought that it was great.

...

I also don't think that the missile brought the djinn; the daughter said something about seeing people in the apartment very early in the film, even before the dad was shipped out. I don't think that the boy had anything to do with bringing them, either; I just felt that he was attuned to their presence and wanted to help keep the daughter safe.
This was my second viewing as well, the first being theatrical, and I thought it held up quite well actually. It still creeped me out and it's hard for a movie to do that... especially when I'm rewatching it on a 40" TV.

As for the boy, I think he very well could have been the one to bring the spirits. The tragedy he faced, losing his parents, could have very much been the result of his family's torment by the djinn; his knowledge a result of HIS parent's investigation to try and escape. It may also indicate that this issue was just going to follow this family now too. Escaping the building was not going to help, especially after leaving those two precious items behind.

Maybe the bomb not exploding was because the djinn didn't want to lose its latest conquest so early.

I think the foreign setting and language also helped keep it unsettling and disorienting. Her running from her home to protect her child only to be told she was violating the law and could face lashings was an interesting way to show the physical world was really not going to be much of an escape for her.

I loved it.
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