Holy Spider

Reviewed by Vaughan Ames

This was a film that left me very moved... shaken even. On the surface, it was 'just' another serial killer movie, albeit set in Iran, but what instantly became obvious was its concentration on the role of women in that society: we saw a brutal killing of a prostitute (calling her a female sex worker seems so inappropriate in a country where women are hardly allowed to be visible, never mind 'work' in the sex industry), followed closely by the arrival of a female journalist - Rahimi – in a hotel where she was at first refused a room as she was travelling alone. This, together with some very earie background music, and we already knew we were in for a very tense watch.

Cleverly, we were shown the killer's home life where he, Saeed, was a family man, apparently loving to his wife and children; it was only on Thursdays when Saeed was 'called by God' to continue his 'work'.

The real essence of the movie was that this man killing prostitutes was soon hailed as some kind of religious hero; he was ridding the streets of these 'evil women'. It even appeared that the police were not interested in catching him – he was doing their job for them: the 'spider killer' becomes the 'holy spider'.

Not until Rahimi makes herself a target and almost gets killed in the process is Saeed finally caught, and even then, the press and a lot of the public call for him to be let off. Possibly the most chilling scene was his teenage son saying he might carry on his father's work in a video'd interview with Rahimi... powerful stuff, from beginning to end.