Under The Shadow Review

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It’s time for an indie horror film. Now, that can sound like a very dangerous combo. I haven’t had great luck with indie films as of late nor have I had luck with the recent horror films. If you want to be more accurate, you could also just say that I haven’t had any luck with either genre at all. Whether past or present, they typically don’t work out all that well. Still, maybe they would cancel each other out and the movie would be a success. This horror film actually is better than the vast majority of them. It’s not a film that you’d want to re watch, but it was better than expected. For a horror film, it was actually pretty decent.

This is one of the few films that I’ve seen subbed aside from anime movies so that was pretty neat. Well, the film starts off with Shideh and Iraj. They live in a war torn country where bombs are dropped every once in a while and everyone is pretty much doomed. Your only two options are to stay and try your luck or move to America where things are going well. Everyone leaves for New York, but Shideh doesn’t want to leave her home. Iraj tries to convince her, but then he’s called to serve in the war. Shideh decides that staying in the home with their daughter Dorsa will still be doable, but then they begin to be haunted by the Djinn. These powerful genie want to take Dorsa away. They seem to prefer not to get their hands dirty so they rarely launch any actual attacks, but the threat remains. Can the heroes escape these spirits or is the house simply not big enough for the lot of them?

Well, lets go into the reasons as to why this film is better than the average horror. There’s no animal violence. You heard that right folks. I admit that it’s rather shocking, but there isn’t a random dog or bird death in the whole film. That’s a horror staple and I’m glad that this film ignored it. There aren’t any random fanservice scenes either if I recall correctly. No random shower scene to drop the film a few stars. It’s also not unnecessarily violent with the spirits just trying to eat everyone. As I mentioned, they’re pretty relaxed and chill the whole time. These are spirits that you can’t be friends with, but at least they’re not too over the top dangerous.

One thing that this film does have in common with other horror movies is that the main characters are pretty annoying though. Shideh overreacts for everything and comes across as super defensive. She blames her husband for not convincing her to stop partying and aiding the rebels in a futile mob display at her college which banned her from going back. She wants to stay at her house even though it’s not the smart thing to do and she constantly gets mad at her daughter and cracks. (Yells) It’s very hard to be sympathetic with her during the movie and she never really becomes a nice person. She does have a final confrontation with Iraj on the phone though where Iraj finally cracks, but more on that later.

Dorsa makes sure to get the heroes in as much trouble as she can. She’s really attached to this doll that she has, but she ends up letting the Djinn get it. How the Djinn work is that they can’t mess with you until they have one of your belongings. I mean, they did break into the house to grab it so they technically could attack witho or without the objects, but maybe it’s an honor code of sorts. Whatever the reason, Dora makes it very easy for them. She keeps leaving doors open and trying to break into their hideout. She stops Dora from escaping a few times because she wants the doll even more than life itself. It’s even her fault that the fake out at the end works because Dorsa is so mean and inconsiderate during the whole film that her actions at the end were pretty believable. Dorsa just isn’t a team player and she does her best to cast doubt on everyone.

Finally we have Iraj. He’s the most reasonable of the main characters. If he had been around it would have been a lot tougher for the Djinn which is why they had to break into the government offices and make sure that the guy was drafted. He calls from time to time to remind Shideh that she should leave already even if it’s always futile. Finally, he seemingly cracks at the end and throws out a lot of insults. Of course, another explanation is that the demons got to him and forced him to say that or they just mimicked his voice. I like to think that he just cracked though since everyone tends to crack in these horror films and that way he would be no exception.

One of the most well done parts of the film was the final triple fake out. So, Shideh starts to run for the basement because the walls were all caving in from the latest missille. Unfortunately, Dorsa stops because she really wants her doll. Shideh heads back and grabs her so then they make it down. That’s when Shideh seemingly hears Dorsa yelling for help from upstairs. If that’s Dorsa, then who is the girl with Shideh? The girl half heartedly tells Shideh to wait and see so she just shoves the girl away and heads upstairs. She finds Dorsa hiding under the bed, but then she shifts into a monster and grabs Shideh. No worries, Shideh’s dealt with these guys before and overpowers the comically weak Djinn and heads back downstairs.

Unfortunately, Dorsa is having another tantrum so she runs to the Djinn so she can be protected. Unfortunately..it was a trap! They use reality warping powers to try and take Dorsa down for the count, but Shideh just overpowers the illusion and sends them to oblivion once more. I suppose Shideh should get some claps for how she kept humiliating these monsters, but I still didn’t like her as a character. Either way, it was a pretty great moment since the scene had her running up and down the building since it was always hard to know which Dorsa was real. Get ready for that plot twist ending by the way…it makes things pretty interesting. All horror films need a twist ending after all so I’m glad that this film didn’t forget to add it. That’s a horror staple that we need to keep. Even action films are doing them nowadays and you know that that’s a good sign.

The film can drag a little when the Djinn aren’t around though. I can’t say that the actual story is very interesting. Since the cast isn’t likable and all of the neighbors vanish when important things are happening, you’re always just waiting for the haunting to start. Maybe it’s for the best since if the Djinn were to appear more, then there would be more time for dicey stuff to happen. Still, it’s a tough balancing act to follow. The visuals for the Djinn were fun when they popped up even if it was pretty rare to save the budget. I liked how fast the villains were as well since one even used super speed to blow by Shideh at one point. Seeing more scenes like that would have been cool.

Overall, if there’s anything that I’d change or add, I’d maybe reduce the time that the film spent looking for the doll. Everyone knew that they wouldn’t find it until the spirits wanted them too after all so we would get the general gist of the situation with a quick montage or something. The characters hold it back somewhat, but the film isn’t bad. It’s decently interesting and manages to fit in all of the jump scares at the end. You’ll be left with some questions like why a little kid knows so much about the Djinn, but I guess someone needs to know about them. After all, these guys have been around for a while so there should be other witnesses. If you want to see a horror film, then I’d recommend this one over most of the others. It may be the best horror film aside from Poltergeist III and maybe Lights Out. It may also beat Lights Out to be honest. It’s the kind of film where you’ll start to forget some of the specifics, but you’ll remember the overall film and that’s a good thing. Cut out Dorsa and I’m sure the film would instantly jump up a star.

Overall 5/10

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