Demons of Fear: “UNDER THE SHADOW” (2016)

Fear and anxiety have a way of unsettling us: sometimes bringing out our worse natures, and sometimes forcing us to find our better selves. Writer/director Babak Anvari explores this in his Iranian horror, UNDER THE SHADOW. He also shows how fear, anxiety, and war can unearth darker powers in Nature. The look of the film is simple but with a growing oppression, a sometimes claustrophobic feel. The main characters are at the mercy not only of the external unrest but also of what is lurking in their minds.

Lunes Mundial: Gaspar Noé’s “Love” (2015)

Love (2015) is a highly reflexive film that says as much about writer-director Gaspar Noé (I Stand Alone, Irreversible, Enter the Void) as it does about its diegetic world. Its protagonist, Murphy (Karl Glusman), is (like Noé) a young, foreign-born (American rather than Argentinian) filmmaker who moves to France to make films. Murphy becomes involved in a highly charged relationship with a young French artist named Electra (Aomi Muyock). Their relationship ruptures after they invite a teenage neighbor, Omi (Klara Kristin), to have a threesome with them.

Lunes Mundial: Ozon’s “See the Sea” (1997), an Early Example of the French New Extremity

Retrospectively seen by film critics and scholars as one of the first films of the French cinéma du corps (also known as the French New Extremity), François Ozon’s suspense thriller See the Sea (Regarde la Mer, 1997) is a bit tamer than later extreme cinema would become. Nevertheless, it has its transgressive physical moments (both sexual and violent). What’s most interesting about the film is the individual psychologies of both major characters, Sasha (Sasha Hails) and Tatiana (Marina de Van), as they play out in the context of an increasingly strange relationship. The strangeness comes from various boundary-crossing moments that start small but add up to a gruesome finale and suffuse the narrative with an overall sense of impending horror.