Holy Spider is a 2022 internationally co-produced Persian-language crime thriller film directed by Ali Abbasi.
Based on the true story of Saeed Hanalei, a serial killer who targeted sex workers and murdered 16 women in Mashhad, Iran, from 2000 to 2001, the film depicts a fictional female journalist investigating a serial killer.
It was chosen to compete for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022, where it premiered on May 22, 2022. Zar Amir Ebrahimi was named Best Actress at the festival.
At the 95th Academy Awards, the film was chosen as Denmark’s entry for Best International Feature Film and was named to the December shortlist.
Holy Spider (2022) Movie Ending Explained
Soon after Rahimi’s escape, Saeed is apprehended by the police. Even so, he follows them with a cunning smile. Despite the arrest, Rahimi believes it is only the beginning of his conviction. She believes he will find a way out because of the religious forces outside who would justify this vile man’s behavior as cleaning up the streets.
As she suspected, such forces and a large number of locals have given the murderer a moral clean cheat. Prostitutes, on the other hand, are looked down upon despite their profession because of the same social forces that prevent them from obtaining even the necessities.
Saeed’s son is taught how justified his father’s actions are, to the point where he begins to feel proud of what his father has done. He notices the outpouring of public support for his father and is strangely motivated to act similarly.
Meanwhile, Rahimi and Sharifi pay visits to the victims’ families in order to persuade them to testify against the murderer in court. They are ashamed of their daughters and realize that a trial will not help them reclaim them.
Due to their precarious financial situation, they would rather sign anything for money. While Rahimi becomes increasingly helpless, Saeed’s wife works tirelessly to have him released from custody.
She is adamant that he has done nothing wrong, and she instills this belief in their children. Seeing the crowd, she realizes they are supporting Saeed for their own personal, temporary relief rather than genuine concern for their family.
When Rahimi interviews Saeed in prison, he unflinchingly admits to killing 16 women and expresses no remorse for noting that Rahimi would have been his next victim. While his attorney tries to sway the case in his favor by citing his unstable mental state, he begins rambling about his religious motives, which he believes are not immoral, making it more difficult for his family to free him.
‘Holy Spider’ Review: Brutality Tale
“Holy Spider,” like many serial-killer dramas, is a grisly-gruesome thriller disguised as a moral tale. Ali Abbasi, an Iranian filmmaker based in Denmark, directed the film, which tells the story of Saeed Hanaei (Mehdi Bajestani), a construction worker and war veteran in Mashhad, Iran, who strangled 16 prostitutes to death in 2000 and 2001.
His case sparked a media frenzy when his ostensible attempt to “cleanse” his hometown — a spiritual center for Shiite Muslims — drew public support from hardline Iranians.
Powerful attempt to portray the political, and emotional sides of a murder, which the religious fundamentalists consider as holy. Well structured to point against the religious superiority and religious hooliganism of Iran.
— Niranjan Thekkedath (@NiranjanT2003) January 1, 2023
The irony at the heart of “Holy Spider” is fascinating and timely: How does a holy city not only tolerate but actively encourage prostitution, drug trafficking, and indiscriminate slaughter? However, the film’s genre-movie stylings reduce these sociopolitical issues to psychosexual spectacles.
Abbasi appears to be fascinated by Hanalei’s contradictions, who was a devout Muslim, a family man, a pervert, and a ruthless killer all at the same time. But anyone who reads the news, anywhere in the world, will respond to these rote misogynistic hypocrisies with jadedness.