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Opens Fri, Dec 9

HOLY SPIDER

  • Dir. Ali Abbasi
  • Denmark/Germany/Sweden/France
  • 2022
  • 117 min.
  • NR
  • DCP

In Persian with English subtitles

  • Assistive Listening
  • Subtitled
  • Hearing Loop
HOLY SPIDER

In Iran’s spiritual capital, Mashhad, a dangerous and brutal cat-and-mouse-game unfolds between a serial killer and a journalist seeking justice. In the light of day, Saeed (Mehdi Bajestani) is a worker, doting family man, veteran of the Iran–Iraq War, and a devout Shia Muslim. He appears to live simply with his wife Fatima (Forouzan Jamshidnejad) and two children in the exalted northeastern city of Mashhad, known as the spiritual capital of Iran. But by night, Saeed cruises his hometown’s seedy alleyways by motorcycle on a “holy” crusade to cleanse his nation of immorality. As part of his quest, he lures unwitting sex workers to their deaths and dumps their bodies, acts that come to feed a growing media frenzy. With no end in sight to the slayings, a Tehran-based journalist, Rahimi (played by Zar Amir Ebrahimi, who won Best Actress at Cannes 2022 where the film screened in competition), arrives on the scene, determined to uncover the killer’s identity. Soon, a dangerous cat-and-mouse-game is underway, where each player’s and onlooker’s own interpretation of justice casts a unique prism of doubt.

Iran-born, Denmark-based director Ali Abbasi, whose previous film BORDER (TIFF 2018) won Cannes’ top Un Certain Regard prize and received an Academy Award nomination, based his chilling co-written script on true events. In Mashhad between 2000 and 2001, 16 sex workers were brutally murdered. His meticulously premeditated storytelling lends ample screen time — including graphic murder scenes — to the women whose lives were stolen, simultaneously weaving a stark commentary on a society that righteously reveres its heroes while cementing age-old patterns of misogyny. While it is said that justice is blind, spotting what’s creeping in the dark requires a wide-open gaze. (Synopsis from the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival Program Guide)

“This isn’t just good filmmaking, it is profound filmmaking…. The direction, editing, and sound design are all top-notch. This movie draws you in and is, by turns, thrilling, horrifying, and surprising.” —Andy Howell, Film Threat

“...Without a doubt, one of the most haunting films of the year.” —Nate Richard, Collider

The Belcourt Theatre does not provide advisories about subject matter or potential triggering content, as sensitivities vary from person to person.

Beyond the synopses, trailers and review links on our website, other sources of information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense MediaIMDb and DoesTheDogDie.com as well as through general internet searches.


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