As if the vampire genre hasn’t exhausted the cinema, the self-described “Iranian Vampire Spaghetti Western” A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a fright flick worth experiencing. Ana Lily Amirpour is an Iranian-American film director, screenwriter, producer and actor known for her first feature film “the first Iranian vampire western.” The film made it’s debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014, and it’s based on the short film she wrote and directed by the same title which won “Best Short Film” at the 2012 Noor Iranian Film Festival; she describes the film as more John Hughes than horror. Think Only Lovers Left Alive or Let the Right One In to add to the stylistic library of vampire moderns.
Upon the film’s premiere, VICE Creative Director Eddy Moretti, whose company is releasing the film, has called Amirpour “the next Tarantino”. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott also remarked that the film had a “Jim Jarmusch-like cool” and a “disarmingly innocent outlaw romanticism.”
The film follows the lonesome footsteps of a vampire known as “the girl” who sleeks through the night in the Iranian ghost town known as “Bad City” looking to quench her thirst…occasionally surfing the streets on her skate board and listening to ’80s Euro-Pop. Shot near Bakersfield, Calif., but with dialogue entirely in Farsi, the film takes place in a fictional Iranian setting, identified in subtitles as Bad City, a desolate wasteland with a body count. The black-robed heroine is an avenger of the night who doesn’t take kindly to bad guys; she is first introduced by feeding upon an abusive pimp who has thrown his prostitute out of his vehicle.
“I’ve done bad things,” she tells Arash (Arash Marandi), a young, James Dean-esque man she meets as he’s coming home from a costume party conveniently dressed as Dracula. Too high on ecstasy to walk home, she helps him to her home on her skateboard where they listen to electro-pop music, barely speak a word and share one of the most simplistic yet fully emotional scenes in recent cinema.
“There’s a whole back mythology to Bad City of how it ended up being run the way it is. It’s an extremely stylized version of this shitty outlaw, lawless, western town, a place for people that have had been dealt a bad hand. It was also a place for drug addicts and gamblers, people that had to hide from something bad they’d done and for prostitutes to take refuge and where also prostitution wasn’t really criminalized. I love all the outcasts and the rejects. I feel like hookers are almost a mythical thing because sex is the most valuable on thing on Earth. I also love a gangster. Other little kids may have been brushing their Barbie’s hair, but I love a bad guy, so designing the gangster was one of the big joys. I love Bobby Peru in ‘Wild At Heart,’ I love Drexel in ‘True Romance,’ Travolta and Jackson in ‘Pulp Fiction,’ it’s like the juice of the movie.” Director Ana Lily Amirpour via The Moveable Fest
Ana Lily Amipour may not receive many accolades for her work, some argue the characters are too thinly drawn, but the film presents an aesthetic reminiscent of so many styles and genres yet manages to feel completely fresh. Fascinating in style and chilling in content, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night will be making many top 10 lists for 2015.