Set in 1988 during the final days of the Iran-Iraq War, Shideh (Narges Rashidi) and her daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) are left on their own in their Tehran apartment when Shideh’s husband is taken away on military service. With the bloody war casting a dark shadow over their lives, the sanctuary of their family home is compromised when it appears to be haunted by evil spirits. Surrounded by terror inside and outside their house, mother and daughter are pushed to their limits as they struggle to survive.
British-based director Babak Anvari returned to the Tehran of this childhood to confront the intelligent theme of parenthood during wartime, artfully examining how the contagion of fear can breed monsters. It's an idea familiar from the Spanish-set films of Guillermo Del Toro, but presented here in a style that mixes the emotional intensity of Asghar Farhadi with the claustrophobic terror of Roman Polanski. Since its debut at Sundance 2016 Under the Shadow has been met with near universal acclaim, hailed as a modern horror classic that marks Anvari as a major talent in the making.