If you’re looking for a break from commercial popcorn movies with cardboard cutouts masquerading as characters and “horror” as defined by a ridiculous body count then A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the film for you. It’s an Iranian vampire film shot in gorgeous black and white and entirely in Farsi. The story unfolds in a fictional Iranian ghost town overrun by drugs, corruption and a young, female vampire who listens to brooding music on her record player and skateboards around town when she isn’t sinking her fangs into junkies, pimps and bums.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is of the soft horror variety with blood, gore and death, but not to an excessive extent. The film focuses primarily on its characters, seamlessly weaving their lives together. With popular culture’s obsession with the vampire, it can become cliché, expected and boring. This take on the vampire is a simple yet intriguing one. She’s a creature driven by instinct, comfortable with living a solitary life, but also curious about humans and humanity and the lives they live. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night doesn’t elevate the vampire character type in a way that will forever change the trope, but it does explore the life of a vampire in a way other movies have not. The film has such a different, specific point-of-view and such a careful hand in its execution that it makes one of the oldest myths in history feel fresh.
Music makes or breaks a movie and this is especially true for the horror genre. Director Ana Lily Amipour uses a range of music from multiple genres in multiple ways — pieces of music specific to the characters, to set the mood of a particular scene and to guide the narrative. A scene where the two leads meet for only the second time and share such intimate space set to “Death” by White Lies is, in my opinion at least, one of the most beautiful moments ever filmed.
Beauty emerges from its simplicity. They take the time to build this connection between these two characters, something that means so much in a film filled with such stark instances of isolation, where a character’s only companion is their loneliness, and they do it without saying a single word. It’s electrically charged and fascinating to watch, a testament to the perfect combination of choice in music and acting ability. Creating tension by manipulating silence, moving in just the right way at just the right time and even controlling their breathing is such an important skill set for actors to have and these two do it in a way that feels natural and effortless. All of that comes together in this unexpected, almost romantic moment.
Although A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night has instances of brilliance and perfectly played scenes, it isn’t perfect. The film is slow, almost painfully so in the beginning, but it picks up once the lives of the characters begin to collide. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is unlike any other vampire movie with its memorable style build on exceptional lighting and exaggerated shadows, definitely worth watching.