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In ‘Holy Spider,’ a Serial Killer Murders Prostitutes in Iran—and the Country Supports Him

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23.05.2022

A serial killer roams the streets at night, picking off desperate prostituted women, many of whom are hooked on crack, and strangles them to death in his home. A young female journalist, who is (naturally) feisty and emotionally invested in the case, sets about tracking down the murderer, who has become known as the Spider Killer: their destinies seem set on a collision course.

That isn’t the synopsis of a moderately successful ‘90s thriller starring Ashley Judd, released in the wake of Se7en, but instead the plot of Holy Spider, by the Danish director of Iranian origin Ali Abbasi (Border), which on top of its tense procedural stylings attempts to take the temperature of structural misogyny in Iran. That the film can be termed moderately successful in that ambition is entirely down to a third act, which rescues the film by widening out its scope somewhat, and not at all due to the rather disgusting violence and suspense of its murder mystery.

The movie starts promisingly enough with a stylish pre-credits scene following a sex worker as she leaves her child at home in their small apartment and roams the streets looking for drugs and customers. This woman bears all the hallmarks of being the film’s protagonist, and is shot sensitively, with a detailed description of her working life........

© The Daily Beast


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