Lund Fantastic 2021 Review: IN THE SHADOWS, Resistance Grows

Erdem Tepegöz has made a science fiction mystery about worn-out people in a broken-down world.

Editor, Europe; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
Lund Fantastic 2021 Review: IN THE SHADOWS, Resistance Grows
Erdem Tepegöz' science fiction mindfuck thriller In the Shadows has won awards in its home country of Turkey at several festivals, for best film, best director, best art direction and best music, and has received nominations aplenty in several other categories. Currently the film is doing a world tour among several film festivals, and the Swedish Lund Fantastic Film Festival was one of them. Time to check it out!

Lund2021-Intheshadowsreview-ext1.jpgIn the film we follow Zait, a miner who tirelessly labours day in, day out in a mysterious crater somewhere in the middle of nowhere. An outside world does not seem to exist, though new labourers sometimes arrive, to replace the sick (or fired) labourers who are always suddenly sent away. The anonymous company which employs everyone keeps track of everything with cameras, and food is handed out through machines.

Zait never questions his dreary existence, operating decrepit equipment, endlessly trying to reach his pre-determined work quota. But when a broken machine and a slight illness make this impossible, his demeanour changes. When Zait gets the impression that he's being punished for something he cannot possible be held accountable for, he tries to survive by bending the rules a little...and then he discovers just how screwed his universe really is.

German actor Numan Acar is a familiar face from several American television series and films, and as Zait he is a fine lead indeed. Not an easy man to root for at first, self-centred and humourless, though that changes when his plight increases. But the real main character might be the mine itself, a multi-dimensional monstrosity in which its many rotting locations are loosely strung together by mysterious pipes and a spider-web of cable cars. You half-expect the whole place to come alive like a transforming end-boss from a NieR video game. Director Erdem Tepegöz shot the film in real abandoned factories and makes the places look like a hell, where weather doesn't matter, strange sounds and liquids seep through everything, and where control is something theoretical, held in the hands of someone (or something?) you may never get a clear look at.

Can Zait win his game against this soulless entity? Will he find a cheat to stay safe, or will he rage against the machine? If you go in expecting explosions and spectacle, you'll probably end up disappointed. It's a slow film in the vein of Mamoru Oshii's live action works, or even Andrei Tarkovsky. It takes ages for In the Shadows to provide a direction, let alone an answer to its questions. But at 94 minutes it doesn't outstay its welcome either, and if you like your science fiction drama dystopian, it is very much worth a watch.


In the Shadows

  • Erdem Tepegöz
  • Erdem Tepegöz
  • Numan Acar
  • Vedat Erincin
  • Ahmet Melih Yilmaz
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Erdem TepegözNuman AcarVedat ErincinAhmet Melih YilmazDramaSci-Fi

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