A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night Movie Review
Written by Hamzah Sarwar
DVD released by StudioCanal
Written and Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour
2014, 101 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 27th July 2015
Sheila Vand as Girl
Arash Marandi as Arash
Marshall Manesh as Hossein
Mozhan Marno as Atii
Ana Lily Amirpour’s Iranian vampire western is in a world of its own. It resides in a shadowy, monochrome realm of intoxicating horror that is often aspired to but seldom breached. It's set in the ghostly town of Bad City where residents are slaves of addiction, fear and bad circumstance. As daily life trudges by, the haunting spectre of the veiled girl (Sheila Vand) stalks the dimly lit streets. A silent predator hunting her prey. It’s an ultra-stylish exercise in modern terror that oozes class and creates an atmosphere of nameless dread as it sinks its razor sharp fangs into a ripe chunk of brilliance. Amirpour has injected a cortisone shot into the veins of the genre with a death-defying brand of originality, this is damn cool film-making that lingers on the mind long after the fade to black. It’s the most affecting tale of vampirism since Neil Jordan’s arcane chiller Byzantium and even Tomas Alfredson's Swedish masterpiece 'Let the right one in'.
‘Bad City’ reeks of longing and unfulfilled promises, Arash (Arash Marandi) is surrounded by lost souls battling with affliction. His father, Hossein (Marshall Manesh), is at the heart of the struggle. The crack cocaine addiction has crippled him into a subservient dependent; he is unable to function without the drugs supplied by dealing pimp Saeed (Dominic Rains). The town’s prostitute Atti (Mozhan Marno) craves affection and money to survive, the street urchin longs for companionship and the beauty of Shaydah (Rome Shadanloo) is a lustful distraction. Each is a puppet being controlled by a carnal desire. While the industrial backdrop churns, the veiled girl (Sheila Vand) patrols the streets at the death of night. Her demeanour is reserved and intentions blurry. It's not until the first attack of savagery that her immortal nature is revealed and her monstrous form becomes apparent.
The girl's quixotic relationship with Arash is at the heart of the narrative, it's a love story where Arash becomes infatuated with girl's silent charm. In a beautifully tender sequence, the vampire sizes up the jugular vein of her victim before allowing him to survive in a slow dance rendezvous. Her killings are selective, those with a pure heart are forsaken while the evil and lost cases are put to the sword. She is the veiled protector, the anti-hero cleansing the town of its filthy inhabitants. The youth of Iran is depicted as a lost generation who are paying the price for their ancestor's negligence. The fact she wears a veil is hugely ironic, a religious figure seemingly lost in the wind but still standing for a tainted sense of morality.
There is so much to fawn over here despite the overwhelming feeling of emptiness. The iconic image of the skateboarding vampire riding down the deserted wasteland is cemented in the mind. It’s an iconic brand of cinema that should be savoured and seen by the masses. The girl walks home alone at night on her way to joining the great pantheon of vampires. Be sure to glance over your shoulder next time you’re walking home under the night's sky, she might just be standing there. Waiting… Watching…