Zalava in Philadelphia Film Society

After being called to an isolated village reportedly terrorized by a demon, a military officer must measure his skepticism against the paranoia of the superstitious townspeople.

It’s 1978 in northwestern Iran, and gendarmerie sergeant Masoud (Navid Pourfaraj) has been tasked with maintaining order in the remote mountain village of Zalava. There, paranoid residents are convinced that a demonic force has been tormenting them for generations, and they utilize strange, bloody methods to fight the perceived threat. The townspeople have pinned their hopes on an exorcist named Amardan (Pouria Rahimi Sam), who claims to have captured the demon using unconventional means. Convinced that Amardan is a charlatan, Masoud throws the exorcist in jail for fraud. But this does little to calm the fears of the frenzied villagers. Faced with their hysteria and the threat of violent chaos, pragmatic Masoud is forced to contend with the exorcist in a battle of wills in which neither man’s position is as clear-cut as it initially seems. With his feature debut, writer-director Arsalan Amiri has concocted a suspenseful, expectation-thwarting thriller unlike any exorcism drama before it.

CAST: Navid Pourfaraj, Pouria Rahimi Sam, Hoda Zeinolabedin, Baset Rezaei