The Movie That Makes Vampires Cool Again

Every year, I look for the handful of films that attempt to change the pace of modern cinema — films that present dignity and passion; that are truly trying to push forward in an age where rehashing for the sake of eight sequels is commonplace. I’m not talking about experimental movies; I am simply talking about great new movies — and that’s what A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is: a great movie. Originally a short film, and based off of director Ana Lily Amirpour’s graphic novel, this Iranian vampire/western/art-house flick caught critics and filmmakers’ attention during its festival run. Unsurprisingly, it is slowly becoming the next cult film young art-house aficionados rave about.

Arash and The Girl, or vampire hip

Set in a dark ghost town, Bad City, the film follows an array of characters coping with family problems, ambition, and loneliness. A vampire (Sheila Vand) stalks the street, at times a vigilante, at otherslooking for preys. One night she runs into Arash (Arash Mandi), a young man working to help his father pay off his drug debts. Both lonely and confused, they discover that Bad City has more to offer than they expected. Character relationships are the film’s focus, and they are presented beautifully through the director’s genre mash-up style. 50s-style cars, clothing are mixed in an Eraserhead-like setting, while tinted with a black and white European art-house look. People can refer to the film as a vampire movie, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The word “vampire” is never even uttered — a very good choice by the filmmaker. Instead, Amirpour uses the vampire as an element of the story, while focusing heavily on other characters and their relationships with one another.

Bad City: where every shot is a nice shot

The film does run a little slow though; utilizing long takes and drawn out music-oriented scenes. The soundtrack is so good, however, that the solemn tone captivates the audience rather than bores them. In fact, I would argue that the depressing nature of this film emulates the characters’ loneliness, and enables the audience to fully experience it (even if only remorsefully). The romance is deadpan and relies on phenomenal acting to achieve its effect. The music doesn’t stick to one particular type of genre or theme either, and switches constantly from genre to genre — following suit with the rest of the film.

Don’t’ get me wrong; this film is not one of my favorite movies and doesn’t even come close to my top twenty, or even my top thirty. Yet the film still deserves respect and viewership. It is an accomplishment and a refreshing break from the formulaic shit that pollutes the cinematic world every year. I like to think that directors like Amirpour are directors that beat the system. Very few of them are allowed to make a film with full creative control, but when allowed the results are always more fulfilling. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is available on Netflix Instant Streaming. Go watch it now!

— Ilya Kundin