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.
“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” has the bragging rights of being titled “the first Iranian vampire Western” and it is a bloodsucking film like no other. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. I most certainly give kudos to director Ana Lily Amirpour for producing a vampire movie which takes place in Iran and has western elements throughout but for me, this eclectic mix of genres just didn’t work. The movie was actually shot in California and while cinematographer Lyle Vincent shoots the film using old-school panoramic wide shots, a technique I adore, he also attains, very successfully I might add, the look and feel of an old abandoned town that could very well be located anywhere in the middle east.
For a movie that incorporates vampirism and western components, very little actually happens. We are introduced to a girl (Sheila Vand) whose name we never know but she appears in the strangest places during the night and stares at people from a distance and sometimes, follows them. She wears clothes that resemble a nun’s habit and occasionally, will kill a random homeless person. We are also introduced to Arash (Arash Marandi), a young handsome man who lives at home with his drug-addicted father Hossein (Marshall Manesh). With money owed to a local drug-dealer named Saeed (Dominic Rains), he takes Arash’s brand new car as collateral until Hossein can pay him back.
On his way home, he meets the girl and takes her back to his apartment where she quickly kills him. Arash makes his way to Saeed’s apartment wanting his car back and when he enters, he finds Saeed dead. Looking around the apartment, he finds all of his drugs and money and takes them with him, along with his car. On the way, he meets the girl and instantly falls for her and and even with the added romantic elements thrown in, not much else happens. The film is really just a series of sequences of different people doing different things, many times with no relation to each other. The vampire elements are seen briefly but even they lack the necessary bite (pun intended) a film like this needs in order for this aspect to be successful.
The girl bares her teeth and is suddenly kneeling over a body but we see it from a distance and there is absolutely nothing about the scene that stands out because we’ve seen the same facet utilized to greater effect in countless other movies. With big-budget vampire films these days and their inflated budgets, an indie movie trying to achieve the same objective, better have an ace up their sleeve, otherwise, it just can’t compete. Arash falls for the girl but she has no personality whatsoever, she hardly speaks, never smiles and looks stoic the entire time so the purported romantic elements that are introduced, fall flat because they are simply not realistic in the least.
I liked the overall look of the film. The fact that it was shot in black and white lends itself and the locations used herein, a bleak and dreary ambience that couldn’t have been realized using color. I really felt like I was watching the events unfold in some almost abandoned ghost town in the middle of Iran, it’s just a pity that the story development and character exposition couldn’t match the visuals.
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