Of late, vampire flicks have seen somewhat of a resurgence in quality. What We Do in the Shadows peeked into the lives of vampiric housemates with This is Spinal Tap! results; Only Lovers Left Alive used the creatures’ immortality as a thinking cap to ponder the meaning of existence; bloodsuckers converged on a sleepy British town in Byzantium to wreak darkness upon normality. Add to that list A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a startlingly unique tale from Iranian-American director Ana Lily Amirpour.
Welcome to Bad City, an Iranian ghost town that has its fair share of drug addicts, thieves, and a roadside pile of dead bodies that mysteriously keeps getting higher. Little do the residents know that the body count belongs to a single figure; veiled in black and prowling the streets, a beautiful lone vampire (Sheila Vand) hunts for her next victim. But she likes indie music, and has something of a conscience to go with it – and Arash (Arash Marandi), a mild-mannered, good-looking James Dean-type, might be able to show her a new direction.
Everything about Amirpour’s film burts with originality. Filmed in lush monochrome, the black and white photography leaves plenty of shadows for dark things to hide in – and when our vampire does go in for the kill, the movie becomes genuinely scary. But A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night belies any horror trappings, for it’s a movie that is just as funny as it is scary, if not more so. But don’t class this as horror-comedy; the movie almost belongs to its own genre, as it occupies its stilted semi-apocalyptic world so fully, that any narrative heft (of which there isn’t much) isn’t needed to suck us into what is essentially a remarkably twisted love story. But despite its uniqueness, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is painfully short; there’s a sense of huge build-up with little pay-off. But this is a movie that invests you so deeply in its personality, you’ll want to get to know it better – and that means watching more than once.