Cannes #75 - "Holy Spider"
Saeed is a family man - a caring father, devoted husband, and occasional serial killer. Yes, a merciless executioner who hunts his prey in the night streets of Mashad, in Iran, and signs off as the Spider Killer. The most chilling aspect of his personality is the self-righteousness with which he lures and consequently slaughters the helpless prostitutes he targets in his web, a confidence provided by his extremist religious views. He is not a maniac à la Jack the Ripper, but rather a jihadist against vice and carnal sin on a holy mission to purify his town. A gory crusade that finds its prominent adversary in Rahimi, a young and audacious journalist compelled to put an end to the carnage.
What begins as an Iranian Zodiac soon becomes a Middle Eastern Frenzy, as while Rahimi’s dangerous investigation goes on, the murderer’s identity is never concealed and the audience witnesses his assassinations step by step. The fact that the “monster” is introduced straight away is what makes Holy Spider a strong film, as the focus is not in reaching the conventional climax with the villain’s capture, but rather in the dualism between his vicious crimes and his everyday, normal existence. What makes this film stand out from its countless Hollywood siblings dealing with similar scenarios, though, is how society deals with it. Rahimi is not only fighting against the Spider, but his toxic web extends to the deepest level of the Iranian culture she’s part of. Her press colleagues don’t take her seriously, the authorities try to repress her, and her efforts are constantly undermined because they’re coming from a woman. Based on true events happened twenty years ago, the Spider killer might be gone, but a society that dares to question the rectitude of such crimes, and at times even condones them, it’s still an ongoing issue that requires a more powerful insecticide.