By Daniel Wirtheim, Features Editor
Published in print Jan 21, 2015.
Along with avocados and zombies, vampire flicks might be one of the biggest trends of the 2000’s. There everywhere, and almost always stick to the same mantra that says, “Vampires are cool.”
Iranian director Ana Lily Amirpour knows that vampires are always cool, but demands more from them. Her latest film, “A Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night,” is a self-proclaimed “Iranian Vampire Western.” It has all the elements of a great vampire film, it’s in black and white, a young starlet and conjures up the feeling of being perpetually stocked by a shadowy figure. The “Western” is a little bit of a stretch, but based mostly on the soundtrack, which features a few great Iranian pop bands doing Western-esque ballads. All together, the film comes off as a fresh new take on the vampire trope. It’s all the more evident when the vampire trades her walking shoes for a stolen skateboard. This quirky little film has been so successful that Geeksboro (Greensboro’s only coffeehouse cinema) extended the film’s run by one week.
Amirpour builds a world of lawlessness in the fictional town of Bad City. The characters, who are all handsome with dark features, are changed for better or worse when a vampire girl (who walks alone at night) begins interceding on domestic disputes. Mostly she protects women in danger of sexual abuse, but also scares lost children and falls in love with a dashing young man.
She stands for higher moral values in Bad City, or something like that. It’s pretty unclear what the real message is, but that’s where the charm comes from. The film is definitely in the Arthouse Revival subgenre, which means there are a lot of slow shots that facilitate wonder through beautiful framing techniques and a killer soundtrack, rather than mindless violence.
Music plays a central role in the film, creating deep bonds between characters and the backdrop for a pill-popping conman. It’s clear that some parts of the script were built around the soundtrack, which gives the plot a sort of digressive nature—in a good way. There’s a breathtaking scene with a disco ball, a costumed boy on ecstasy and the song “Death” by White Lies.
Its not another vampire move. It’s a brave step for an independent filmmaker, a project that demands undivided attention to detail and sound, but leaves the viewer blissfully unaware of what the whole thing was about—in a good way.