In the past few years, vampires on film have undergone something of a change. Thanks to Twilight, the vampire and romance genres have blended to make the fanged creature of the night into a hunky heartthrob with a soft side. Thankfully, that morphed version of Nosferatu hasn’t morphed the genre as a whole. The Iranian horror/western hybrid A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is faithful to vampires as bloodthirsty monsters but instead of making a love story fit only for the teenage girl demographic, this vampire tale has blood, genuine scares and yes, a quirky union between vampire and human.
The film takes place in the ghost town Bad City, a place which seems to only be home to a handful of lost souls. The two main characters are Arash (Arash Marandi), a young man with a junkie for a father and shady dealings with a local drug dealer. His clothes and car are 1950s style and so are his mannerisms, smoking cigarettes and not seeming to care about much. Throughout the course of the film, he encounters “The Girl” (Sheila Vand), an attractive vampire bent on bringing bad seeds to justice. In her vigilante-like mission, she falls for Arash and the two form a truly unlikely union.
Shot in black and white, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a bold and unique film that will leave some scratching their heads and others thirsting for more. The death scenes aren’t overly gory or tasteless. They are subtle and rely mostly on suspense, something many horror films this day and age lack. Vampires have rarely been depicted on film as they are here. “The Girl” is bloodthirsty, yes, but she has heart and Arash knows this. He sees past her murderous nature and becomes smitten with a fairly gentle girl. Their romance is fascinating to watch as it unfolds on screen.
Filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour has mostly worked on short films and her talent behind the camera is very apparent here. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night actually started as a short in 2011 and now, the film’s true potential has been realized in feature-length form. The horror elements are well in place and with “The Girl” standing still in the middle of the street, staring at her victims with a soulless stare, Amirpour frames this “villain” exceptionally well. Black and white was a daring choice but it works in this film’s favor. If anything, it enhances the overall mood and is a very welcome filmmaking decision.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a terrific vampire picture, not only because it’s scary but because it is change of pace from the norm. A breath of fresh air, this movie has serious potential of becoming a staple of future Halloween screenings. It’s spooky and gritty but at the same time, artful. Amirpour is an artist and her film is powerful evidence of that fact. If you are interested in unique vampire stories, then A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is definitely worth sinking your teeth into.