Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, A (2014)

It frequently feels like a self-admiring work intoxicated with its own style and mood, but this chic arthouse vampire indie, shot in the Persian language, offers a taste of honey amid the spillage of blood.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dir. Ana Lily Amirpour
2014 | USA | Drama/Horror | 101 mins | 2.35:1 | Persian
M18 (passed clean) for some violence and drug use

Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh
Plot: 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.
Awards: Nom. for Audience Award – Best of Next! (Sundance)
International Sales: Cinetic Media

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Misfits, Connection
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: Screener – The Projector Plus
Spoilers: No

Fancy watching a vampire girl on a skateboard in a fictional Iranian town? This could have been the marketing pitch for Ana Lily Amirpour’s stylish first feature, expanded from her 2011 short film of the same name. 

Shot in the Persian language, which gives it a strange vibe, considering that it is rare to listen to the language outside of what we know as Iranian cinema, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a chic arthouse vampire horror that is really an American indie walking down an increasingly well-trodden cross-cultural path. 

In a way, the film feels fresh, but stripped of its stylistic devices, its rather thin narrative doesn’t offer anything more than a story between a lonely young woman and a frustrated man whose fleeting encounters might just lead to a burgeoning romance. 

“I’m bad.”

Amirpour’s film frequently feels self-admiring, as if it is narcissistically intoxicated with its own style and mood.  Nothing reflects this more than the frequent use of music montage coupled with slow-motion—and since it is a black-and-white movie, the use of light and shadow, and other chiaroscuro effects as well.  But it sure looks great.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night won’t appeal to the mainstream horror crowd, but it should stoke the curiosity of cinephiles wanting to try out something odd but familiar. 

One might describe it as Jarmusch meets Lynch—this not only captures as mentioned the American indie spirit that Amirpour’s work possesses, but also its deadpan and surreal ‘vibes’.  Amid the spillage of blood, we are also offered a taste of honey—can love transcend archetypes?

Grade: B



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