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Shelley

North American Premiere
  • Denmark
  • Sweden
  • 2016
  • 92 mins
  • DCP
  • Danish / English / Romanian
  • English (subtitles)
Hosted by Director/Co-writer Ali Abbasi

Official Selection: Berlin International Film Festival 2016

“Atmospheric, twisted and stylish” - Jessica Kiang, INDIEWIRE


Shelley from Festival Fantasia on Vimeo.


Elena is a broke single mother on the verge of a burnout, looking for a break from her daily obligations. A change of scenery would be welcomed, especially one involving a small country house far from the city. When she learns of a couple looking for a maid to take care of their forest dwelling, she jumps on this seemingly fortuitous opportunity. Upon arrival, Elena realizes that her employers have a somewhat unusual lifestyle. They don’t eat meat or use electricity, and they keep contact with the outside world to a minimum. With an unbreakable three-year contract, the young woman complies without complaint. At least she found the peace and quiet she’s been looking for. But her bosses have one more favour to ask of her. Unable to conceive, they want Elena to be their surrogate birth mother — for a handsome sum, of course. Flattered by her employers’ kindness and generosity, she accepts, unaware that her life has just capsized into unspeakable horror. Elena starts to notice signs suggesting that whatever it is she may be carrying inside her, it’s far from human.

What begins as an intimate, Bergmanesque drama slowly transforms into a modern gothic tale in SHELLEY, the brilliant atmospheric tour de force by Ali Abbasi. Reminiscent of ROSEMARY’S BABY, Abbasi’s film has a realism so convincing that the creeping transition into fantasy causes overwhelming anxiety. As the leading lady, Cosmina Stratan, winner of the Cannes best actress award for BEYOND THE HILLS, gives a gripping performance as a troubled woman succumbing to her darkest fears. It’s easily one of the most powerful productions of the 2016 lot.

— Simon Laperrière

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