Review: “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”

Like it or not, the success of “Twilight” brought a resurgence of all things vampire.  From the multiplex (“Dracula Untold”) to the art house (“Let the Right One In”) to television (“True Blood”)…they saturate our culture.  Talk about the undead!  It would be easy to say Die already, vamps! were it not for signs of life like Ana Lily Amirpour’s “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.”

A girl walks home alone poster

A young man, Arash (Arash Marandi) and his heroin-addicted father are preyed upon by a local drug dealer.  That is, until the drug dealer has a run in with the titular vampire (Sheila Vand).  The Girl — that’s how she’s referred to in the credits — has her sights set on more than just the neighborhood underworld.  In one of the movie’s most chilling scenes (and a great twist on standard gender roles), she menaces a mischievous young boy.  “Have you been good?” she snarls in his ear.  After the boy flees, she commandeers his skateboard and rolls down the center of a desolate street, her lonely eyes gazing up at the lights.

A girl on skateboard

Produced in Southern California but set in a fictional Iranian ghost town called Bad City, “A Girl Walks Home Alone” has a number of interesting dichotomies.  Indeed, none more than Vand in the main role.  She’s a real marvel in the way she balances sad and sinister.  We meet her, listless, sitting alone in her apartment, listening to music.  We don’t yet know she’s a vampire, but her small frame belies a real ferocity.  When she’s on, she’s unblinking and invasive.  She leans forward and imposes herself on the other actors like a cobra lording over its prey.  When the Girl meets Arash at a party, he’s dressed as Dracula.  Not knowing how she’d react had me on edge.  The character is great for creating that kind of tension.

Ca-agirlwalkhome-e

The film isn’t heavy on plot or narrative.  The more languid passages, characters searching for connection in a lonely town, recall the work of Jim Jarmusch.  (Just last year, Jarmusch took a stab at the vampire genre with “Only Lovers Left Alive.”  It was set in another ghost town known as Detroit.)  Like that indie filmmaker’s early work, ”A Girl…” was shot in gloomy black and white.  Amidst a dilapidated landscape, Director of Photography Lyle Vincent’s 2.35:1 compositions serve to isolate the characters.  The film feels like a Western with its barren and wind-swept streets, making the need for human connection that much greater.

Even if kinship isn’t always in the characters’ best interest.

Have you seen “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night?” Comment Below!

If you haven’t, check it out! It’s available on iTunes.

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