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Holy Spider(عنکبوت مقدس)

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Denmark, Germany, Sweden · 2022
1h 58m
Director Ali Abbasi
Starring Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Mehdi Bajestani, Arash Ashtiani, Forouzan Jamshidnejad
Genre Crime, Drama, Thriller

A journalist descends into the dark underbelly of the Iranian holy city of Mashhad to investigate the murders of sex workers. She delves into the motive of the killer, a family man claiming to be on a religious quest to cleanse the city of sinners. A gruesome thriller culminating in the contentious trial of the murderer.

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What are critics saying?


IndieWire by David Ehrlich

If the first half of the film shies away from the cheap thrills of its serial killer story, the pointed banality of its final chapters proves as horrifying this genre ever gets.


The Film Stage by David Katz

Overall it seems Abbasi got caught between the social righteousness dictates of the “message movie” and pure amorality of what, disturbingly so, often makes for great genre cinema.


Screen Daily by Fionnuala Halligan

Abbasi has made an Iranian noir which, even though it dares to poke around the spiritual capital of Iran with its largest mosque in the world, isn’t an assault on the Iranian government per se, but a crime thriller which shows how far fundamentalist morality can be twisted and how banal the face of evil really is.


The Playlist by Jihane Bousfiha

As a straight-forward thriller, Holy Spider checks off all the boxes that make it an intriguing watch: it maintains a tense tone and has a gripping plot, it transforms into a courtroom drama halfway into its run, and features gritty and stylish visuals.


Total Film by Neil Smith

An intense and gripping dramatization that, a few liberties apart, does justice to a disturbing true story.


Time Out by Phil de Semlyen

Abbasi offered a brilliantly leftfield perspective on immigration and otherness with his 2018 debut Border, and his follow-up takes no prisoners in his critique of Iranian society’s built-in misogyny and fake piety.


Slashfilm by Ryan Leston

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.

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