GIRL'S DORMITORY (Mohammad-Hossein Latifi). 96 minutes. Opens Friday (February 25). Subtitled. For venues and times, see Movies, page 84. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Girl's Dormitory shows that cheesy low-budget horror films are universal. A scream is a scream in any language.
Friends Roya ( Baran Kosari ) and Shirin ( Negar Javaherian ) head off to a small university outside Tehran. Their dorm isn't quite ready, so they temporarily bunk down in a nearby building. There's no electricity and the girls find (ew!) a cockroach. But far worse, the place is located right next to a mysterious estate that's apparently haunted by jinns (or "genes," depending on the hilariously inconsistent translation).
After a couple of curious visits to the creepy building, we soon learn that young brides have gone missing in the area for years. Which could be trouble for Roya, since she's considering marrying Shirin's hunky brother, Farhad ( Sadegh Safaie ).
While it initially seems like a look at contemporary Iranian attitudes toward women - Roya and Shirin have to plead with their parents to enter school, and Farhad wants Roya to abandon her studies and learn how to cook - Girl's Dormitory is really just an unassuming little frightfest.
All the stylistic horror clichés are present and accounted for, but its reveal about the villain will seem old-fashioned to a jaded North American viewer.