A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night Movie Review
Written by Katie Bonham
Released by Studiocanal
Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour
2014, 101 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Theatrical release on May 22nd 2015
Sheila Vand as The Girl
Arash Marandi as Arash
Marshall Manesh as Hossein 'The Junkie'
Mozhan Marnò as Atti 'The Prostitute'
Dominic Rains as Saeed 'The Pimp'
Rome Shadanloo as Shaydah 'The Princess'
Set in the Iranian town of Bad City, aptly named so because of the drugs, prostitution and general despair of its residents. We are introduced to a lonesome female vampire who stalks the dark streets for prey. We follow the protagonist Arash, as he battles personal and financial difficulties, only worsened by his father's drug habit. Arash and The Girl meet on a lonely road and make a connection, sparking a raw and fresh relationship for them both.
The film is shot beautifully, each set-up is concise and executed with great poise as the camera becomes enveloped in each scene. The choice of black and white only heightens the atmosphere of their oppressive and cold surroundings. The harsh whiteness is ever present, even during the night scenes, as street lights glare from the screen, creating an underlying glow of the smouldering anger and evil that lurks in this town.
The acting is decent and you feel for all of the characters (except Saeed) as they battle against their unbreakable addictions, be that drugs or vampirism, as they are stuck within their own personal loops of torment. The scenes between Arash and The Girl create an honest glimpse into the pains and uncertainty of a new relationship, coupled with the issues that haunt them both, they are two lost souls brought together in this unloving and harsh environment. A ceremonial piercing of the skin is initiated, but not of the blood sucking kind, rather, a tender and intimate act of Arash piercing her ears for the new earrings that he gives her - the ultimate bonding between a vampire and human as she freely lets him puncture her skin.
The vampire creature is presented cloaked in a black hijab, usually with a striped t-shirt underneath. As she prowls the dark streets, she moves slowly and creeps along the pavements. She becomes an Angel of Death or a Grim Reaper like figure as her dark outline moves towards each unsuspecting victim. The vampire element is not over-animated; we see her vampire teeth and once or twice her vicious contorted face rearing as she goes in for the kill. Her swift movement is kept to a minimum, creating a more moody and subtle monster which could strike at any moment. There is a beautiful scene where she skateboards down the lonely streets and revels as the wind billows around her; despite her monster side, she is, after all, still human. The scene in which they both meet is comedy gold: a drugged up Arash, dressed in a Dracula costume, is stood, mystified, by a harsh street light and is only tamed away from its watchful glare when 'The Girl' appears, every so coolly skateboarding down the road.
The soundtrack offers an interesting mash up of Western, Iranian and punk rock. Unsurprisingly, based upon a graphic novel by the same name, the film oozes a film noir style and embraces the landscape and story with great thought and vision. The concept of this sinister Nosferatu-like vampire, who likes electro punk and smoothly stalks the shadows at night, injects a new take on the genre; provides a huge step for cinema as the first Iranian horror film, and also becomes the first Middle Eastern feminist vampire film. An impressive feature debut from Ana Lily Amirpour who creates a very expressive and intriguing film about not only vampires, but about the everyday monsters that lurk unseen in the shadows, surrounding and oppressing us. "You're so cold!" maybe, Arash, but she's got one hell of a bite to boot.