Review Day 10: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)
The 2010’s have produced some memorable and excellent horror films, almost changing the game with some fresh new films. Making her feature directorial debut with A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014), Ana Lily Amirpour has certainly made a big splash, fitting right into the genre and putting her own unique vision and spin to it. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is the first (and maybe only so far) vampire film to have a middle-eastern setting, and while the film was shot in California it is set in Iran. The vampire film has existed since cinema existed, and making a vampire film feel different and unique now isn’t so easy, and while this film does have it’s influences it is very much one of a kind.
The film takes place in the lonely and sad town of ‘Bad City’ in Iran, where a girl (Sheila Vand) roams the streets at night, wearing a striped top, pants and chador. She is almost like a haunting and ghostly presence to the town, whose residents barely notice her, as she watches all of their actions. Young man Arash (Arash Marandi) also lives in ‘Bad City’ and has his own issues with his father Hossein (Marshall Manesh) who is a drug addict, and in trouble with Saeed (Dominic Rains) to whom he owes money. Saeed takes Arash’s car as a form of payment, desperate for his car back Arash decides to steal from a rich family he works for. The girl and Arash cross paths, finding some sense of common ground between each other, but he’s unaware of what she really is.
It isn’t easy to describe the plot without wanting to give much away, this is almost a bleak dream like film, shot in black and white with a very memorable soundtrack. The plot isn’t so much important, as this is more of a character and visual driven piece, evoking emotional reactions from the audience. Ana Lily Amirpour takes societal norms and expectations and completely subverts them, where the lonely girl walking around at night is not a victim at all, but the one that needs to be feared, especially by men. Her victims here are men, and men that do wrong to women, as she sees all the horrible things they do, and chooses them to feed on. The feminist themes are very much on the surface, but this isn’t a film that will preach this, it shows you what it does and doesn’t apologise for it.
There is a very classic western feel to the film, as well as that 50s rebel teen aesthetic, mostly seen with the character of Arash, who gives off some wonderful James Dean vibes. Blending all these different aspects together really works, and as mentioned earlier the film is quite unique and a very fresh feel for the vampire film. The performances are all excellent, Sheila Vand is hypnotic as the girl, having very little dialogue she makes use of her eyes and her movements to really express the characters. Arash Marandi fit the role quite well, his loner sad character is an interesting fit for the girl, and the scenes they share together are some of the best you’ll see, the chemistry sizzles for them, and that underlying love story feel really works. Rome Shadanloo who plays Shaydah a prostitute is also very good, another strong performance in the film. Special mention to Masuka the cat who really lights up the screen, and to think the cat wasn’t even originally in the script.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is an excellent film, an incredible debut feature for Ana Lily Amirpour (she has a cameo as the skeleton girl), who also wrote the script, what a talent we have here and she has been working solidly since this film was released. This is a film that will stay with its audience for a long time, a strange dream like experience that will leave its mark on every viewer.
Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea