Every once in a while, a film comes along that takes a stale genre and makes it completely new and cool again. Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut film, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, is the vampire film that makes the creatures of the night scary and sexy again. After years of Twilight, it’s so refreshing to see a vampire that doesn’t sparkle in the sun or pretend to be a high school student.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night tells the story of a vampire (Sheila Vand) who lives in an Iranian ghost town called Bad City. The town is full of junkies, pimps, and prostitutes, and the vampire sets her sights on the worst the population has to offer. She is a solitary creature until she meets Arash (Arash Marandi), a young man who takes care of his heroin addicted father.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Release Date: November 21, 2014
There’s a lot about this film that makes it a completely unique experience in the world of modern cinema. Shot completely in black and white, it has the look and feel of something that’s much older than it actually is. Light and shadow play a huge part in the progression of this story. The vampire is silhouetted in black throughout most of the film, which helps her disappear into the darkness or stand out against street lamps.
The special effects in it are very limited; seeing the vampire’s fangs grow is about the only thing that stands out in that regard. For the overall feel of the movie, I’m glad they kept things as simple as they are. Anything more than that would have taken away from the mood and made things seem cheesy.
Sheila Vand is a total revelation as the nameless vampire. There are moments in the film when she seems so vulnerable and young, but moments later, she’s terrifying and ancient. Whenever she’s on screen, she draws all attention to her, making the audience and the humans she interacts with wonder who she is and where she came from.
And the thing is, we never really get an answer. She never tells Arash her name, and the audience never gets any sort of hint of how she was turned or how old she actually is. That was probably my favorite thing about the movie. I get so tired of origin stories when they’re totally not needed. This girl is a vampire, and she hunts down scum in Bad City. That’s all anybody needs to know, and the characters in the film know even less than that.
Vand’s co-star, Arash Marandi, plays a human man whose name is also Arash. The audience learns quite a lot about him throughout the film, which helps make up for the lack of a backstory for the vampire. Like all the other residents of Bad City, Arash is a lonely man trying to survive. He cleans houses to support himself, his father, and their pet cat.
Marandi has an almost James Dean-esque quality about him. He comes across very cool in a lot of scenes in the film, but there are other times where he just seems like a guy who could use a friend. That’s another thing about A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night that I liked a lot; for a movie about a vampire hunting down drug addicts, there is a lot of heart and humanity in its characters.
Arash, for example, clearly takes a lot of pride in the fact he was able to afford a fancy car. The vampire finds a skateboard, and for the rest of the film, we see her gliding around the streets on it while looking for potential victims. There are tons of other little things that really make these characters seem like real people.
Honestly, there was not a single thing about this movie that I didn’t like. While it’s definitely not the sort of thing a mainstream audience would enjoy, if you like vampires and you want to see something different, it’s more than worth checking out. I have a feeling that A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is easily on its way to being a classic, and I’m eager to see what Ana Lily Amirpour does next.