I tend to be drawn to movies featuring Djinn (alternately Jinn). If the term is not immediately familiar to you, a Djinn is a shapeshifting fire demon from Arabic mythology, and from the religion of Islam, as Djinn are mentioned in the Koran. They occupy in Islam the same spot that “demons” hold in Christianity. Our Western concept of the “genie” comes from a term for a singular Djinn, Djinni. Alternately like our words “fish” or “deer”, the word Djinn can be both singular and plural. And then again, Sir Richard F. Burton, the man who translated and brought the THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS (commonly called THE ARABIAN NIGHTS) to the West, said that the plural of Jinn was *Jann*. There is no one concrete spelling. It is the novelty of the Djinn in western culture, I think, that makes them so attractive to the imagination. There are few movies that come to mind featuring them: the excellent but poorly titled LONG TIME DEAD; the godawful CLASH OF THE TITANS remake (about which the Djinn character was the only good thing); and now UNDER THE SHADOW.
The movie is a window into another world. What was it like to be a modern woman living in Iran in the 80s during the Iran/Iraq war? When a missile crashes into the apartment complex where she lives, a young mother finds that something else—a Djinn—now resides there as well. Superbly acted and directed, UNDER THE SHADOW was submitted as a contender for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards the year it was released, and deservedly so. It’s that good.