A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Recently, I watched a film at a local theater called “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” directed by Ana Lily Amirpour. I’d thought the title was intriguing, and with its tag as “The first Iranian vampire Western” I was immediately sold. I didn’t know all too much about the film, and with just general ideas of it being (a) a horror film, (b) in black and white and (c) subtitled, I was of course well-equipped to convince the rest of my housemates to join me on this adventure. If I were to quickly sum this film up, I would most easily describe it as a Twilight-but-not-really, Django Unchained redemption style, Feminist power, pro-cat kind of movie (whatever that means).
The film takes place in a rather sparsely populated fictional Iranian town referred to as “Bad City” that is watched over by a kickass vampire lady (name unknown) that wanders the streets under the protection of night, delivering retribution to any man she encounters who has a history of disrespecting women, while sending out menacing threats to keep others on the right path. On the other hand, we have Arash, a hard-working man who struggles to provide for his deadbeat junkie father. Much to my surprise (I suppose I didn’t look into this film enough beforehand), this is the classic story of girl (unnamed vampire lady) meeting boy (good guy, Arash) in a fateful encounter from which we see unravelling an unlikely romance.
Unnamed vampire lady is as quirky as they come. She is cold in demeanor, and harbours inherently distrustful feelings towards men. However, in between her chilling demonstrations of justice, there are some contrasting scenes of her being pretty human – riding skateboards, doing her makeup to go out on the town, and grooving to some funky music in her bedroom. This vampire has style. She is also a hidden softie. There are some heart-warming scenes that crop up as this romance unfolds. In this sense, this film encapsulates several different genres, incorporating themes from the romance, drama and horror genres. I think this film finds its strengths more in style than in substance. The film is a very cool, very sleek and stylish kind of film. It pleases on many different levels. We have the element of revenge, exacted from a feminist standpoint. We get the butterflies-in-stomach feeling from some genuine romantic moments. We have an intriguing female lead and a good-hearted male lead coming from a troubled family. And a lot of screen time for a cat. Mix in some drugs, some sex, some rad music and there we go! It feels very familiar, as though this film is good because it takes all these well-known themes, and clumps it together while putting a stylish edge on it.
This film is by no means ground-breaking. I would argue that it’s not very original either. But it succeeds at taking the best from popular influences and turning the film into one enjoyable ride. It hits all the right notes, definitely leaves room for some unanswered questions, but all in all a solid film.