Reactions to Holy Spider

Holy Spider achieved an overall appreciation score of 85%. Many members found this gruesome but incredibly powerful, while others found the film an obsessive portrayal of violence against women.  Some of the comments submitted:

  • At least as gruesome as advertised! First class in all respects.
  • A very powerful account of the repressive forces in play in modern day Iran. Convincingly acted with extreme violence portrayed in context and without gratuitous voyeurism. A complex narrative with lots of intertwining themes and many questions posed. An uncomfortable viewing but worth watching.
  • It ain’t Barbie. Jolting to experience an entirely different approach to cinema – instinctive, raw, unflinching, non-glamourizing, true. The critical response (e.g. Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian) has almost universally failed to see this as, what it is surely intended to be, a bitter political satire. The tendency has been to interpret it as a police procedural with extra violence. But the spider’s web, as established in the first aerial shot of the city, is Iran itself, and Saeed is the ferocious, bullying State – simply the most violent of the many forms of repression, and the ‘insane’ expression of religious ideas through cruelty and misogyny. Technically, it delivered a steady stream of anxious moments, jeopardy and ambivalence, which kept the audience rapt. The quality of the acting makes almost any UK independent seem stagey and contrived, even Ken Loach. It is so, I think, because the story and the film matters to those involved. (That it is based on real events is, frankly, neither here nor there. Those events have been used as a springboard for a detailed and shocking critique of state terrorism, ignorance and the misuse of power.)
  • Quite graphic in places but such an interesting look into the mindset of a fanatic and to see the way women are treated.
  • An amazing film. The best so far this season.
  • Like it – a film with a story line!! Intriguing, twisty and turning storyline set up well within a completely different culture.
  • Very engaging and well portrayed theme of male dominated Iranian society. Pleased to see that sex scenes were not overdone – the strangulations could perhaps have been a bit shorter but I just looked away.
  • An interesting view on the complicity of an over paternalistic state with murderous misogyny. The filmmakers chose to equate the all too graphic depiction of strangulation of women with the all too graphic hanging of their murderer. An unnecessarily hard watch. Their point could surely have been made with more subtlety & would have achieved a wider audience.
  • Crikey – what a depressing film – especially for women. Quite unimaginable to live in a society where the women are either reduced to being as indoctrinated as Fatima or as angry and untrusting as Rhimi. Not an advert for Islam.
  • Too much depiction of the violent attacks on women.
  • Loved the start, plunged into Mashad, intimate and atmospheric with excellent photography and sound. Thereafter I found the society not explored very well and the characters wooden, and the obsession with throttling deeply unpleasant.
  • Competent film with straightforward story line and acting. A good film would have explored the reasons why he was murdering, more thoroughly and subtly.
  • A joyless film, not even justified by calling it a real story.
  • I did not think it was an original take on an investigation of a serial killer. Also, the constant portrayals of the gruesome deaths did not contribute to the overall flow of the film and instead felt just gratuitous; it did not give the respect the victims deserved.