New Directors/New Films Review: Babak Anvari’s Acclaimed Debut Horror Film 'Under The Shadow'

The culprit at the heart of the terrors of Babak Anvari’s debut horror feature “Under The Shadow” is a djinn, a supernatural creature that is more popularly known as a “genie.” But this is hardly the benevolent wish-granting spirit of the famous “Thousand And One Nights” tale of Aladdin and his magic lamp; in fact, there are no wishes made or granted in this film at all. Instead, this genie is a more sinister force that simply festers in an environment marked by fear and anxiety. The generalized threat doesn’t really evolve much beyond than that; certainly, there’s none of the conceptual complexity of the storybook villain at the heart of Jennifer Kent’s “The Babadook,” to which Anvari’s film bears some thematic similarities. Even if the supernatural elements feel half-baked, Anvari’s film compensates by giving those elements a surprising amount of metaphorical depth. “Under
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