Facets Cinémathèque

Archives +

October 7–13, 2016

Chicago Premiere

Under the Shadow

Buy tickets
Film still: Under the Shadow Film still: Under the Shadow


Critics' Pick
  —Village Voice
"A satisfyingly tense and atmospheric haunted-apartment thriller"
"[Director Babak] Anvari deftly builds and sustains tension throughout, crafting a horror movie that respects genre conventions...while firmly establishing its own distinctive identity"
  —Hollywood Reporter
"Under the Shadow smartly observes the emotions stirred up by a world defined by restrictions, and the terrifying possibility that they might be inescapable
"An emotionally direct and realistic horror story"
  —Slant Magazine
4 stars
  —The Guardian
4 stars "Babak Anvari moves "Under the Shadow" from realism into horror almost imperceptibly... unnerving in the extreme"

Shideh (Narges Rashidi) is a woman with a lot on her mind. In 1988 Tehran, in the final days of the Iran/Iraq War her husband has just been called to the front, while Iraqi air raids draw perilously close to their own apartment. Meanwhile she has learned that the government will not allow her to continue her medical studies because of her activist past. On top of it all, her in-laws' indifference strands her in Tehran amid chaos and panic.

As she is left alone with her daughter Dorsa after neighbors and friends flee from a city in chaos, her daughter becomes increasingly ill and seemingly disturbed. Shideh initially dismisses Dorsa's tantrums over a missing doll, but she reluctantly comes to suspect that they have been targeted by djinn, malevolent spirits that steal from those they seek to possess.

Babak Anvari's ambitious feature debut blends period detail and social critique with a good old-fashioned horror story, crafting a film that is as smart as it is scary. Anchored by Narges Rashidi's stellar performance, Under the Shadow presents Shideh's experience as a strong, defiant woman, frustrated by a society that has consistently admonished her for her independence, as she single-handedly battles a multitude of dangers from both the physical and supernatural worlds in order to save herself and her child. Under the Shadow is remarkable for its powerful implications that suggest Iran itself is haunted by an entity that has stolen something very valuable from its people.

Directed by Babak Anvari, UK/Jordan/Iran, 2016, 84 mins.


  • Fri., Oct. 7 at 7:45 pm
  • Sat., Oct. 8 at 5:45 & 7:30 pm
  • Sun., Oct. 9 at 5:45 pm
  • Mon.–Thurs., Oct. 10–13 at 7:45 pm
Buy tickets


$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation