After making a splash with twisted fairy tale BORDER (PFF27), Ali Abbasi demonstrates a knack for directing crime drama with this searing sophomore feature, a propulsive procedural based on a real-life serial killer who terrorized the Iranian city of Mashhad in the early 2000s. By day, Saeed (Mehdi Bajestani) is a devoted family man. By night, he channels his sublimated frustrations into a perverse holy crusade by abducting and murdering female sex workers. When journalist Rahimi (Zar Amir-Ebrahimi, winner of Best Actress at Cannes) arrives in the city determined to find answers, she’s dismayed to encounter a corrupt police force with little motivation to find a killer who’s “cleansing” the streets. As the self-righteous killer and intrepid journalist threaten to cross paths, Abbasi ratchets up the tension with brutal efficiency. Yet for all the grisly carnage on display, it’s Abbasi’s unsparing depiction of a violently misogynistic society that truly haunts.
CAST: Zar Amir-Ebrahimi, Mehdi Bajestani, Arash Ashtiani, Forouzan Jamshidnejad
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