Vampires usually seem to either be tied to Transylvania (understandable) or shiny teen heartthrobs (not so tolerable). Iran is one of the last place that people likely think of when dealing with fanged freaks.
This brings us to ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’.
Bad City, either set in Iran or an American-Iranian community, is host to a colorful collection of characters, some are less than savory. We meet a sleazy drug dealer who meets a Girl (Sheila Vand) wearing a traditional black all-encompassing veil and cloak. When the two find privacy at his residence, she reveals herself to be a vampire and quickly dispatches him.
We then meet Arash (Arash Marandi), a young man who loves his cat and his car. His father Hossein, (Marshall Manesh) is a pitiful heroin addict.
Arash encounters the Girl and they form an odd connection as they are both lonely, for entirely different reasons.
The traditional Muslim garb for a female turns out to be an incredibly appropriate stylistic choice for a vampire. The black, flowing concealment makes for a striking image. Who knew that cultural subjugation could provide such artistic fodder? Seriously though, it’s easy to make some comparisons between this and ‘Persepolis’. A graphic novel was even made about this, which furthers cements to connection.
The decision to shoot this in black and white helps to create a very stark environment, one that differentiates between the safety of the daytime (for humans) and the night (for vampires, obviously). Also significant is the further contrast of the setting typically not being safe, especially for a woman, at night when, in this case, no one else is safe from this particular woman.
Our fanged-character doesn’t particularly inspire fear because her kills (that we know of) seem to mostly have a morality to them. Other shady characters are scarier for the average pedestrian. She only dispatches and feeds off of those who are committing wrongdoings. One interpretation could be a powerful female response to an oppressive culture largely aided by a supernatural power/curse.
This would all be even better if the plot was a little more propulsive and eventful. Some have mentioned Jim Jarmusch’s deliberate style when talking about this film and you won’t hear any arguments from me.
Special features include: a booklet, deleted scenes, stills, and a Q&A featuring Roger Corman.
While not truly suspenseful or scary, ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’ is a novel take on the vampire myth simply by transporting it into a different culture than we have seen before.
Add an extra half star to this review.
Rated R 101 minutes 2015