A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

11/02/2018 07:28

Film: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Year: 2014

Director: Ana Lily Amirpour

Writer: Ana Lily Amirpour

Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi and Marshall Manesh



I had heard some things about this film, but didn’t know too much about it coming in originally. I decided to give it a viewing as part of my 31 Nights of Halloween challenge. I’m now giving it a second viewing as part of The Podcast Under the Stairs’ Summer Series. The official synopsis is in the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.

This film was intriguing in that all I knew coming in was that it was filmed in black and white. It is an artsy film, which I didn’t really have any problems with as I tend to enjoy these types more. This movie doesn’t have a lot in the way of story. It is character driven and all are intertwined with each other.

I’ll start with Arash (Arash Marandi) who is the first character we see. We learn a lot from this opening sequence with him. He finds a cat and walks it back to his car. On his way he is accosted by a young boy who is asking for money. We learn that the nice car Arash has is due to him working a lot and saved up for it. There are problems at home though.

His father is Hossein (Marshall Manesh) who is a junkie. I kind of feel bad for him as it seems he has fallen into this lifestyle after his wife passed away. He owes money to Saeed (Dominic Rains) who is a drug dealer and a pimp. He tells Arash he owes him the money that Hossein has taken. He takes his car as collateral, which angers Arash and rightly so.

Arash works for some rich people and we meet their daughter, Shaydah (Rome Shadanloo). We get that she is a partier and doesn’t have to worry about anything. Arash notices she leaves out some expensive earrings and sees a way to save his father and get his car back.

A prostitute that works for Saeed is Atti (Mozhan Marnò). She is behind on what she owes and he doesn’t give her any of her cut due to this. He does have her perform fellatio on him. He is spooked when he sees a young woman staring at his vehicle. The Girl is Shelia Vand. We meet her in a surreal scene where she dances in her room to a record. She then puts on dark lipstick and a hood with a cape.

As I alluded to earlier, we start to see these characters interact and how their lives change. The Girl is a vampire and she kills Saeed. She does this as Arash was going there to pay him off. He decides to take the drugs, his car keys and the money. He quits his job and takes over as dealer for the area. He tries to get his father clean during this. We see at a party that he is interested in Shaydah, but he really connects with The Girl. All of these interactions put a lot of events into motion that will change them all, but not necessarily for the better.

Now this film isn’t for everyone. It is a slow burn and not a lot happens. What pulled me in though was the plight of everyone. There is a line about how only idiots and the rich think that their lives can change. This hit home for me and it is kind of scary. There are a lot of allegories for these that I saw as well. Saeed thinks he is a predator as he has tigers on everything. He discovers what a real predator is though with The Girl.

The setting of the film was something that was pretty interesting as well. Much like the film Near Dark, it takes place in a desert where they have oil wells pumping. Being this is a vampire film, it is an interesting parallel. Going from that, we get a scene where one stops working. This city is drying up in not only oil, but also in blood. I did find the recurring images of a dried up river bed with a bunch of bodies in it. I get where the bodies come from, but the lack of realism there bothered me. What I like is that this is filmed in the United States, but they did a great job mimicking what the Middle East would look like here.

Then the last part of the story I want to touch on is that Arash is hard working. The boy wants a hand-out and he gives the advice of how many days he worked to buy the car that he is. Saeed just takes it from it, showing me a bit here that nice guys don’t always win. Once he is killed, Arash decides to go the easier route of taking over for Saeed. We see though that even with the money and selling drugs, Arash’s life isn’t that much easier. Some things happen though to make him fully free, or at least it seems. This area isn’t conductive though to living a good life for his plight.

What is more important to talk about would be the acting. I really liked Vand in this film. She doesn’t have a lot of lines, but we see that everything she is doing is wearing on her. This is interesting for being a vampire film and her being the creature. I liked bringing an almost human element to it. Marandi was probably my favorite character though since I could connect with him. I have trouble at work where I work too hard and the employer takes advantage of me. It was nice to see his hard work payoff, but he is also a cautionary tale of taking the easy road doesn’t mean it is easy. Manesh I felt bad for as he turned to drugs to overcome his grief and he is in that never ending wheel. I also felt bad for Marnò. She so badly wants out, but there’s not a lot she can do. Rains and Shadanloo are bad people, but I like the role they play for the film and the building of the story. The rest of the cast round out well for what they needed.

As for effects, there aren’t a lot of them. Much of the attacks are off-screen or blocked by The Girl’s cape. I didn’t mind this though, as it was done more practically. I did like the effect of her changing into a vampire, where her fangs emerge. It happens so quickly and was effective. What is good though is the cinematography. I’ve already stated that this is filmed in black and white, which adds something to film. It is shot beautifully. Something else that was very well done was the score of the film. There are times when it gives the scene such a surreal feel. It is interesting though that with how bleak life in this area is. It ramps it up and it involves the use of drugs or The Girl is there. Either way, I thought this was a good aspect to the film.

Now with that said, I enjoyed this film. It had a feel of The Transfiguration which is another vampire film that I enjoyed quite a bit. This film doesn’t have the most complex story, but we do get some great acting where the characters have complex back-stories. Seeing how they interact in this rough place they call home was good. The film is a slow-burn so if that is a problem, avoid this one. Visually the film is really good and it adds to it being shot without color. There are some really good subtexts that I enjoyed as well. The score was really good as was the acting. This film was shot in the United States, but the spoken language is Persian. I watched it with subtitles. If you are onboard with all of these things, I’d say to give it a viewing. I thought this was a good film.


My Rating: 8 out of 10