In the quiet Iranian town of Bad City, many people walk the streets after dark including prostitutes, drug dealers and a girl who walks home alone at night. Unbeknownst to the residents of the town, the girl is in fact a vampire who spends her time stalking the streets for her next victim. The Girl often selects the criminals or homeless to prey on – the kind that wouldn’t be missed. She even uses her snarling fangs to warn a boy to stay in school and study hard through fear of plucking his eyes from his skull.
One night she encounters Arash who is heavily under the influence returning from a Halloween party dressed, ironically, as Dracula. Thus begins the start of an unlikely romance set against a bleak backdrop of death.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is billed as an Iranian Vampire Western (yes, you did read that correctly) but one would also add that its a love story. Inspired by David Lynch’s Wild at Heart as well as Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, this is the debut feature film from Ana Lily Amirpour and what an accomplished debut it is too. Further influences can be drawna girl walks home alone at night from two vampire films; Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive and Swedish horror Let The Right One In. Despite these visible influences, Amirpour is still able make her voice known by giving the film an original majestic elegance that is always playful and oozes cool.
Beautifully shot in striking black and white A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night contains some wonderful scenes that echo that of a western gunslinger standoff as the Girl Imitates, follows and plays with a potential victim waiting for them to take the bait or flinch and run. Punctuating the film is a genre defying soundtrack that includes electo-pop, western, indie rock and Iranian love songs. It helps keep the film fresh, fun and ambitious.
The nameless, silent and deadly Girl is played by Shelia Vand. Her elegant beauty and portrayal of the the vampire is assuringly confident and full of mystique and intrigue. She is effectively the Lone Ranger looking to clean up the streets but has a skateboard for a steed and fangs instead of a gun complete with black Burka and cape. Her love interest Arash is played by Dominic Rain who is able to deliver the right amount of innocence to his character for him to be at risk but with enough boyish charm for the Girl to fall for him.
Most of the people in Bad City are alone and all they all desire to have that someone with them, even vampires. Its this emotional centre that is the driving force of the films narrative. Amirpour’s film also manages to challenges stereotypes and institutions that are common place in Iran but in this film its the women who take the lead.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is silent, deadly and beautiful. It doesn’t waste it’s dialogue choosing to graceful and confidently build tension and suspense gradually and resisting the urge to go for the money shot. Visually tense but always gorgeous and immensely cool. This is one director that has been able to apply her own voice whilst also showing where she has been influenced. Whilst it may struggle to find a mainstream distribution it still remains an atmospheric, ambitious and stylised to perfection. This is one Iranian vampire western love story you cannot afford to miss.