Jinn, Wartime, and Metaphor in the Amazing “Under the Shadow”

And the jinn we created before from scorching fire.
– Quran 15:27 “The Rocky Tract”

Symbolism and metaphor are powerful weapons against oppression, and can also illuminate complex and unbearable situations like war and the subjugation of women.  Writer-director Babak Anvari’s debut feature Under the Shadow is a intelligent film that takes full advantage of the setting, situation, and culture of Iran in the 1980’s to spin a terrifying supernatural horror film.  Among the background of the Iran-Iraq war, the film depicts a woman and her young daughter as Tehran is bombed and a nefarious Jinn takes residence in their apartment building.  Though a supernatural horror film on the surface, Under the Shadow also boasts a rich subtext that explores ideas of misogyny, family struggles, and the gloom of wartime.

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