I’ve been avoiding this movie for quite some time because I thought the idea of a 2014 arthouse horror shot in black and white just sounded way too pretentious for me. It’s not just that but the background to it is kind of strange too; Elijah Wood producing an Iranian horror movie with Persian dialogue? Rest assured though, this movie is a bootcamp in film photography, absolutely stunning from start to finish.
When it comes to arthouse horror a big issue for me is does it have substance? These kinds of movies tend to be either minimalistic or ultra-violent and oftentimes a blend of both; completing that directors surrealist vision. I thought this film said a lot in it’s subtlety, much like the vampires in Byzantium, we got characters that spoke more deeply with body language. So yes, it absolutely has substance and purpose to its artistic direction.
Unlike Byzantium, this story isn’t epic and fleshed out, it actually feels more like a snapshot of a brief moment in time; dreamlike really. That’s neither a good nor bad thing. It does feel slightly less ambitious but not in a way that anything was sacrificed. The director clearly had a vision and it really shows.
Ultimately, I think this is the rare time where I absolutely loved a movie and was slightly less impressed with it upon writing about it. I don’t think this means my feelings about it are invalid but how I felt during a specific shot is both hard to write about and completely subjective.