By Greg Wetherall
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Duration: 101 minutes (USA) (Language: Persian)
The vampire film has undergone something of an overhaul in the 21st Century. Tired of Hammer Horror cliché, a new breed of writers and filmmakers have given the genre a new lick of paint in order to lift it out of its creative stasis. Whilst commercial spoils have frequently followed this renaissance, critical plaudits have been harder to come by (Twilight, anyone?).
Presented in monochrome, this effortlessly cool, atmospheric and substantial Iranian film is something to behold. Fondly reminiscent of, and heavily indebted to, the work of Jim Jarmusch, alongside such fare as Let The Right One In (2008) and even, oddly, Satrapi’s Persepolis (2007), this is a film bursting with imagination, foreboding and equipped with a killer soundtrack.
At its centre, Sheila Vand plays a lonesome vampire stalking the night streets of Bad City. Dressed like a fallen Jennifer Jones from ’40s religious flick, The Song of Bernadette (1943), she paces her patch with a beguiling, yet sinister, air of mystery. Slight of frame, but determined and quick of impulse, much like Carrie, this is one girl who you do not want to cross.
Many scenes strike a memorable match in the mind. When drug-infused Arash (Arash Marandi) finds himself back at the ‘Girl’s’ abode, ‘Death’ by White Lies offers a visceral accompaniment to his addlement. It is a bewitching, heart-in-the-mouth passage. In iconic music-on-film moments of the last 12 months, this sits right up there alongside Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ accompanying the adolescent camaraderie in Celine Sciamma’s Girlhood (2014). The soundtrack, generally, invokes a cross between Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive (2014) and Dead Man (1995) (the latter of which was notable for Neil Young’s roaming, electric score).
Somehow, director Ana Lily Amirpour has built on her 2011 short of the same name and managed to carve out a masterpiece in what is a crowded field. Good cinema should fuel the imagination and exhibit more than its fair share too. This engages on every level.
Tracking shots are utilised effectively, creating a sense of momentum; sound bursts in and then cuts out at the right moments. It is all very seductive. The impression is that for all of the prodigious panache, there is a commitment to telling the story well and maximising the tension for the audience. This is riveting from start to finish.
Brooding, stylish, and armed with a convention-defying narrative; A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is a cult classic in the making. See it and be part of a (select) conversation.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is released into cinemas on 22nd May 2015. To be in with a chance of winning a limited edition vinyl of the soundtrack, enter our competition.