Hailed as by distributor VICE as the first Iranian vampire western, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night balances a melange of genres with the calm subtlety of a film picked for the Sundance Film Festival.
In moody black and white, the clandestine deeds, dirty looks and merciless murders of Persian-language A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night fit both the bloodsucker and western model.
The film’s protagonist, portrayed by Sheila Vand, adheres to the ideal of a modern-day vampire: The Girl, as she is called, bumps indie rock, sports H&M-grade striped shirts with her long black hijab, and matches her strong eyeliner game with dark, velvety lipstick.
However, unlike the other vampires of today’s independent films, The Girl is quick and quiet in her tasks of terror in Bad City. Shots linger in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, but no screen time is wasted on immortal brooding and moral turmoil. The Girl is decisive in who she threatens and who she kills.
While websites such as Salon, Jezebel and Flavorwire have been quick to assess A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night as feminist film due to its strong female lead, director and writer Ana Lily Amirpour rejects the label.
Positive representation of women, especially women of color, is a feminist goal, but ultimately, Amirpour said that her motivations in creating A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night were purely artistic and cultural.
Due to the nature of this film, there is violence and brief appearances of blood. Nevertheless, the film’s bloodshed is tasteful and comes off more as a means to provoke thought about death than serve as shock value gore.
There is a dash of romance between The Girl and earnest, naive Bad City inhabitant Arash, played by Arash Marandi. While the love arc drives the events of the film, romance has little weight in the deeper meaning of the film. At the end of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, the love interests of The Girl prove to be neither malevolent nor corny.
I recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a more understated horror experience. Think Only Lovers Left Alive, Let the Right One In and Byzantium, as opposed to The Lost Boys and The Twilight Saga.