Synopsis: In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.
Release Date: April 20, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Horror, Romance
Even with Twilight out of the picture, vampires are cool right now. As the sexy movie monsters, they’re both desirable and feared. The latest in these hip and happening vampire movies is a beautiful Iranian-set, Persian-language American film called A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is set in an Iranian town called Bad City, where the population of prostitutes and drug dealers is quietly yet systematically being hunted by an enigmatic vampire girl (referred to in the credits only as “The Girl,” and played by Argo‘s Sheila Vand). A good-hearted guy named Arash (Arash Marandi from Kunduz: The Incident at Hadji Ghafur) who lives among the denizens of Bad City encounters The Girl, and becomes obsessed with her. The pair soon discover that they are kindred spirits.
There’s not a whole lot of plot to A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, but story isn’t really what the film is about. It’s all about imagery and mood, and the film absolutely nails it. Technically, it’s a vampire movie, but it’s also a grindhouse film, an art film, and even has little elements of the western genre tossed in. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the first feature film from writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour, and she leaves it all on the screen. She deliberately picks and chooses her influences in a way that’s not unlike that of Quentin Tarantino but, unlike how Tarantino freely quotes from his favorite films, Amirpour combines aspects of hers into something completely fresh and different. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is familiar, yet unlike anything that has ever been seen before.
Although it is definitely edgier than the modern teenage vampire movies of today, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night does share one similarity; there’s a quirky little love story at its center. When Arash first meets The Girl, he is too high to walk, lost in his own town. The Girl wheels him back to her place on her skateboard. Later, when Arash gets The Girl a pair of earrings as a gift, he notices that her ears aren’t pierced. She lets him pierce them with a safety pin so that she can wear his present to her. It’s not Edward and Bella, but that’s a good thing. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night even gets the romantic angle right; it’s completely its own. It’s a cool little indie horror flick.
The first thing that stands out about A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the stunning cinematography. The film is shot in beautiful high-contrast black and white by experienced director of photography Lyle Vincent (Cooties, The Woman in Black), and it’s just a joy to look at. Vincent and Amirpour put so much planning and thought into every scene, every shot, every frame, so that the entire film looks like it would be right at home on the wall of a photographic exhibit in a fine art gallery. Vincent uses plenty of creative camera angles, glass reflections, and natural framing through windows and doorways as well to keep the imagery interesting and compelling. For the cinematography alone, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is an unforgettable film.
The soundtrack to A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is an essential ingredient to the film. The musical selections set the tone for the entire film, helping the film to achieve the hipster vibe that it puts forward. The soundtrack contains songs from many different artists such as Bei Ru, Radio Tehran, Federale, and Free Electric Band, but the general sound is pretty consistent, alternating between a gypsy folk-rock sound and a gothic new-wave style – the film’s opening tune is a song called “Charkesh e Pooch” by Kiosk that emphasizes the folk, while a Joy Division-esque number called “Death” by White Lies underscores all of The Girl’s everyday routines. The soundtrack is not just a group of songs put together to synergistically sell an album; the music helps set the mood for the entire film. It’s safe to say that A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night would be a completely different film with an alternate soundtrack.
The Girl in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is about as scary as vampires get, which is to say that she’s not incredibly scary. She’s more alluring and sensual than scary – she’s a perfect representation of what a seductive vampire should be. There is some disturbing imagery in the film, but it’s more affecting than frightening. For example, in one scene, The Girl attacks a pimp who has just beaten up one of his girls. The beating that he gives his worker is brutal, but nothing compared to the lashing that The Girl gives to him – he ends up crying like a baby and begging for his life by the end of it. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night isn’t so much outwardly scary as it is just unsettling, with an atmosphere of dread and desperation that runs throughout the entire movie. It’s not heart-stoppingly scary, but it will give the viewer the chills a few times.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Ana Lily Amirpour
- Producer(s): Ana Lily AmirpourJustin BegnaudSina Sayyah
- Screenwriter(s): Ana Lily Amirpour
- Cast: Sheila VandArash MarandiMarshall Manesh Mozhan MarnòDominic RainsRome ShadanlooMilad EghbaliReza Sixo SafaiRay HaratianAna Lily AmirpourPej VahdatMasuka The Cat
- Editor(s): Alex O’Flinn
- Cinematographer: Lyle Vincent
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Natalie O’Brien
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA