In the Shadows
A shrill siren pierces the stillness of a crumbling coal mine. It’s the start of the night shift, but for the unnamed protagonist (known only as “The Miner”, played by Numan Acar) it’s time for rest. He climbs into the cramped crevice he uses as an improvised bed and gets all the sleep he can to prepare for the next day’s hard labour. With meagre provisions to survive, voices heard from the vents in the character’s shack and constant surveillance from oppressive overlords who may or may not exist, director Erdem Tepegöz creates an enthralling dystopian setting in In the Shadows, his latest feature.
The Turkish director instantly sucks the audience into the uncanny world he’s composed with striking cinematography and an eerily haunting soundtrack that lets viewers know that there’s something deeply wrong here. By constantly drip-feeding spectators little nuggets of information, the aura of mystery about this place is given ample time to sink its teeth in, piquing our curiosity. What happens when a worker fails a medical test? Who is the voice behind the speaker system? And how do its employees find themselves here? These are only a handful of the questions one will be asking as they try to piece these fragments together.
The Miner does his utmost not to draw attention to himself to survive. But when he contracts a strange infection while working in the mines, the character finds himself thrown down a rabbit hole that goes much deeper than he could ever have imagined.
While Tepegöz sustains the ongoing mystery throughout most of his film to an unsettling effect, there is only so long that this can go on before the unique atmosphere begins to lose its power. The protagonist’s plight evaporates from a meaningful journey of discovery to a listless trudge as monotonous as his daily toils. Likewise, a severely underwhelming conclusion only serves to render his ordeal even more meaningless – regardless of whether these choices were intentional or not.
One part steampunk dystopia, another existential nightmare, In the Shadows is a fascinating concept that doesn’t go far enough with its material to make the impact it should.
In the Shadows does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for In the Shadows here: