It’s not every day an Iranian black-and-white western, following the adventures of a female vampire, is made. Lets just say the selection of main stream vampire movies the past five years have not been kind to audiences searching for something more than just super-strength vampire sex and lip bitting between slurs of “I want you forever” and “I don’t want to hurt you” (five points for anyone who can guess the title of that movie). Audiences everywhere unknowingly dreamt for a movie like A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night to be made. Yeah, even you. Executive producer Elijah Wood came into your room at night, put some Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-type of device on your sleeping head, and sucked out the desire for better film right out of you. He left the pornographic thoughts and useless Game of Thrones trivia in there though. Hey, it’s Elijah Wood: He can do so much.
Sheila Vand stars as the girl who rents a tiny place in the ghost town of Bad City. A fan of new wave music and striped shirts, the girl wears her traditional black headscarf in the Iranian town that unfortunately stays true to its name, polluted with crime and drugs. One of the victims of this horrid town is the young James Dean-looking Arash Marandi. Paying off his father’s drug debt while simutlatenously feeding his addiction, Arash is working hard in hopes to leave Bad City and start a new life free of his obligations to his father. When Arash meets the girl while high on his own supply (he takes up a career in drug dealing ironically enough), the boy-meets-girl plot takes an interesting turn, because the girl is not just any girl- she’s a vampire terrorizing the “bad men” of Bad City.
What could’ve evolved into a cliche of “Stay away from, I’m a vampire,” instead respectfully turns into a plot that is not too invested in any more twists and turns. Though the events that unravel are cause for some well deserved “Oh shit!”, director Anna Lily Amirpour gives us a narrative that successfully holds together, with help of her great cast, cinematography and bomb ass soundtrack. When the relationship between Arash and the girl blossoms more, the fate of Arash’s father and the other cocaine sniffing meathead douches begins to blur- Will the girl make them her next victim, or will she just retire to a life of normalcy with Arash, who equally craves a crime-less beginning?
The film is entirely in black and white which gives it a touch of creepiness; almost like a reminder that it is, of course, a vampire movie. Not to say that the girl isn’t intimidating as a vampire- She is just not the traditional blood sucker, which makes her even more brilliant as both a creature of the night and a heroine. Her silence but adventurous demeanor will captivate you; Vand’s portrayal is without a doubt, one for the books, and will forever make a mark in the world of indie cinema, without even saying much actually.
Arash is also a wonder; aside from his good looks, his hopelessness and casualness makes him almost a perfect pairing for the girl…you know, aside from the fact that he is no vampire himself. You want to kiss him sometimes, and there are times when you want to punch him for being such a dick to his father, but hasn’t the role of caregiver to your, well, caregiver, always been of the complex kind? What do you do when your protector becomes the one that needs the protection; the parental roles have turned, so you can’t blame him for wanting out.
What ultimately ties everything all together is the attention to detail- Bad City really does look like a god awful city, and the community really does seem to be the types to live in a city of such misery. From the drug kingpins to the desperate women (prostitute Atti just radiates the desperation you and I would feel if we were in her situation), the condition of Bad City paints the ghost town portrait quite well- You would suck the blood out of everyone here too, like the way the city has been sucked of all hope.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night received much attention last year’s release; they have executive Elijah Wood and the great soundtrack to thank, but of course the film is not limited to just that. Treasured by critics and audiences everywhere, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night has set an example for how indie movies should be- detailed, original and ultimately, addicting. You will, like me, look up the soundtrack, keep track of the cast’s upcoming projects and even consider skateboarding (if you do and hurt yourself, don’t look at me). Winner of multiple indie awards, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the winner of “Netflix Must Watch” (if there was one, of course) and will enlighten your dim one-dimensional film intake by using the power of actually good material. I know- I was surprised such thing could be possible too.