KVIFF 2022: Iranian Horror ‘Zalava’ Is A Thrilling Supernatural Fable
by Alex Billington
July 3, 2022
Everyone knows the concept of Schrödinger’s cat, right? Is there a cat in the box, or not? Here is the formal definition: “In quantum mechanics, Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment that illustrates a paradox of quantum superposition…a hypothetical cat can be considered both alive and dead simultaneously because its fate is linked to an event random subatomic that may or may not occur. How can this apply to a horror scenario? Well, you have to watch and find out. A flood is an Iranian horror film that completely shook me during a midnight screening at the 2022 Karlovy Vary Film Festival. I’m just catching up with it now after its first premiere at the 2021 Venice and Toronto Film Festivals last fall. Damn, I’m glad I haven’t read about this before, because it’s a thrilling experience to find out exactly how they created a brilliant Schrödinger’s cat horror about a demonic force threatening a remote village in Kurdistan.
All I really want to do is rave about this movie and talk about it (once you’ve seen it!) and get everyone I know who loves horror to watch it too. He doesn’t want to go into detail, but I have to because how else can I write this review. A flood is the first feature film by this Iranian filmmaker named Arsalan Amiri, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Tahmineh Bahramalian and Ida Panahandeh. This often happens with film festival premieres, but I’m impressed that this is a feature debut. This filmmaker has a knack for realizing incredible cinematic ideas, and the tension and thrills in every scene blew me away. The biggest complaint I have is that the sound design and sound mixing is horrible. There’s a horse sound for a donkey at one point, and the footsteps and even the breathing are exaggerated and sometimes out of sync. But strangely it gives it a vintage 70s/80s genre movie vibe that doesn’t spoil it at all, it’s part of the experience. Not every movie can be perfect, and some of your all-time favorite movies probably have flaws like this.
The main character of A flood Also interesting is the antagonist, a stern local policeman named Masoud Ahmadi, played by Navid Pourfaraj. His nemesis is actually the protagonist, a local exorcist/demon catcher named Amardan, played perfectly by Pouria Rahimi Sam. All the locals love Amardan because it helps them get rid of a demon (or demons?) that comes back every year and haunts this little town that was built by gypsies centuries ago. But the police don’t like him, and Masoud thinks he’s a crook, a charlatan trying to make money from the locals and the local government, by “pretending” to get rid of this demon. But is there really a demon? Is he really pretending? Who is the crook in this story? It’s part of the mystery and intrigue of A flood, and I like the way they build the concept and let it play with a certain object that becomes the center of attention in the film. Sometimes simplicity rules, and here the filmmakers manage that simplicity perfectly, giving it a life of its own with the most basic props. Cinematic magic at its finest.
All the time I was looking at this, it reminded me The thingand I kept thinking that this whole movie is John Charpentier good level. Not just with the way the story is presented, how authentic the characters are, but with the way the tension is built into the scenes through dialogue and conversations. Once it started with this special accessory, I was completely hooked and ready for the crazy ride ahead. Non-stop tension and every scene as clever as the last. I’m sure this kind of movie will piss off some viewers, but I loved watching this, I totally agreed. Even when I thought I knew what was going to happen next, I was excited to keep watching and finding out, caught up in the filming and thrill of this story. I hope that with more time, more people will find and enjoy this fantastic Iranian horror film and discover how remarkably clever it is with its concept of Schrödinger’s cat. It could become a cult classic. He certainly deserves the praise, that’s for sure. Amardan Rules!!
Alex’s 2022 KVIFF Ranking: 9 out of 10
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