عنکبوت مقدس, Ankabut-e moqaddas
dir: Ali Abbasi
Holy Spider is a movie I have been obsessed with for many months, but not because of anything to do with the movie itself, other than its name.
Every time I saw the name Holy Spider, whether it was on the list of films playing at the most recent Melbourne International Film Festival, or other festivals’ playlists, or mentioned in people’s “Best of” lists for 2022, or in discussions of contemporary Iranian movies, the first and only thing I thought of was “Respect The Rock!”
Respect the Rock is a show that’s been on radio station 3RRR for an absolute age, hosted by Nicole Tadpole, and every single edition of the show has Nicole playing a recording of herself (possibly drunkenly) singing along with a recording of Ronny James Dio singing the song Holy Diver.
Holy Diver, you’ve been down too long in the midnight sea, oh what’s becoming of me?
What the fuck does any of it mean? Who cares? It’s great! Too great to require explanation or understanding.
It’s a legendary song, recorded just after Dio and the drummer left Black Sabbath and formed Dio back, way back in the early 1980s.
What’s it got to do with anything? Nothing, nothing at all.
Got to get away, Holy Diver! Uh uh oh o o dun duh dun duh dun
So every time you see a reference to the title “Holy Spider”, you must imagine it being said loudly, in a metal voice *Holy! Spider!*
All this foolishness… Holy Spider is a bleak, brutal film based on a true story, of an awful man that killed a bunch of women in Iran.
You might say to yourself “well, the vile regime in place kills Iranian women all the time, sometimes just for not wearing a headscarf”, and I would say “Yes, that is true.”
But that’s part of the awfulness that goes along with the story: in an incredibly repressive and entirely misogynistic society such as Iran post-1979 revolution (and, most likely, before it as well), a serial killer of women would be something these morality police or revolutionary guards wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to, especially since he targeted sex workers, and drug addicted sex workers at that.
You would think they would have wanted to promote him to Ayatollah, maybe, but no.
The strong implication the film conveys is that because the higher ups in the regime felt that there were pluses to these killings, the cops on the ground, whose job it is to catch people who commit awful, awful murders, were told to look the other way.