EntertainmentA Disturbing Glimpse At An Iranian Serial Killer

A Disturbing Glimpse At An Iranian Serial Killer [Cannes]

“Holy Spider” is most effective when it’s up close and personal, with shaky hand-cam footage creating a terrifying realism that can’t be escaped. Dimly lit streets and grimy bedrooms are only a smash-cut away, and with a vibrant electronic score that reverberates through every scene, it paints a “Blade Runner”-style picture of the holy city.

The scuffed realism is punctuated by scenes that would sit well in any horror movie — shots of Saeed laughing maniacally, lit from below, are reminiscent of early slashers. His holy crusade is purposefully framed to be as horrific as possible. These moments keep us on edge, heightening the tension as if it weren’t tense enough.

And while Rahimi tracks and faces the Spider Killer, Abbasi expertly assembles a film that veers through police procedural, into horror, and back out the other side. Saeed is an ordinary man doing horrific things. It’s his ordinariness that makes this all the more shocking. But that’s not where the real terror lies…

The greatest horror in “Holy Spider” comes not from Saeed, but from a system of female oppression that enables men like Saeed to get away with it. Whether it’s a lecherous police chief, a serial killer, or a forceful punter, the men in “Holy Spider” are largely complicit. “Holy Spider” shines a light into the murky corners of a society that emboldens its aggressors. In that sense, the film is essential viewing. Even if it is completely devastating.

/Film Rating: 8 out of 10

“Holy Spider” premiered as part of the Cannes Film Festival 2022.

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