Holy Spider – prurient Iranian serial killer drama

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The third feature from Copenhagen-based Iranian director Ali Abbasi shares with his breakthrough film, the troll-thriller Border, a fascination with the monsters that lurk on the fringes of society. But in this Persian-language picture, based on a real-life serial killer who murdered 16 sex workers in the Iranian city of Mashhad, the monster is not just a single individual, but a wider culture of misogyny.

It’s a timely release, adding to the spotlight on women’s rights and roles in Iranian society, and driven by two impressive performances – from theatre actor Mehdi Bajestani as the murderer, and Zar Amir Ebrahimi, playing Rahimi, the female investigative journalist reporting on the case. It’s a tense, atmospheric piece of film-making but it made me profoundly uncomfortable – and not, I should add, in a good way. There’s a prurience in how the murders are filmed – the camera hungrily scouring the distorted faces of dying women – that borders on dehumanising. This, combined with the fact that it’s the female journalist, rather than any of the victims, whose character is developed, unintentionally supports the idea that some women’s lives are worth more than others.

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( With inputs from : www.theguardian.com )

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