Plot – 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.
Director – Ana Lily Amirpour
Released – 2014
Sure, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night may have an American production team, American producers, and they filmed it in California, but the Iranian director cast and dialogue in my eyes make it an Iranian film and at leat World Cinema adjacent, however, outsourced. Within the very first couple of minutes, you’ll soon come to realise this is a unique piece of cinema that blends the line between neo-western and gothic-horror.
Set in imaginary the Iranian “bad city”. A dark and oppressive place where corruption and misogyny run rife, the only functioning industry is Oil drilling and basic human values have eroded away by man’s pursuit of money and power.
With this overbearing atmosphere highlighted by the glorious black and white cinematography, with almost every shot carefully thought out and composed to the point where each shot feels like it could be a still photographic image.
Besides its brilliant cinematography, the most powerful aspect of the film is the characterisation of the vampire character (Vand), both in substance and style. She is both mysterious and fascinating, switching from a demure figure to a ferocious beast at the drop of a hat.
I particularly enjoyed how the filmmakers opted to use the chador as both a symbol of female oppression, a way for this creature to hide in plain sight and doubling up as a vampires cape. Sheila Vand is wonderfully effective in this role, giving off a cold and inhuman vibe throughout, yet it’s clear she has a curiosity towards the people that surround her and some compassion within her.
Sadly, however, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night in the simplest of terms is too reliant on style over substance. The film sets up a brilliant platform with its cinematography, unique location and characters, yet cannot exploit these fully. The pacing is the number one issue, with scenes dragging on for too long, not helped by director Ana Lily Amirpour.
She was unable to turn the abundance of silence into the powerful tool it could have been, while the development of the supporting cast was so minimal to the point where you forgot about them almost as soon as they had left the screen and resulting in a film that although showed real promise, never lives up to its potential. But at least we’ll always have the memorable and iconic shot of the vampire skateboarding down the street.