#3: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
There's just something about this description - "Iranian Vampire Spaghetti Western" - that makes me giggle with anticipation and cross my fingers that what I'm about to watch is as good as the idea that's now swirling around my head. This was better.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
First of all, this is Ana Lily Amirpour's FIRST FEATURE FILM. You'll clap for that after you've seen it. Reading up on her before writing this post, I see that some dude's calling her "the next Tarantino," and to that I say, small potatoes. No hate to Quentin, but can we let great work step out of his shadow for a moment? Other filmmakers have watched some Godard and Leone, okay?
Watching this Persian language masterpiece, I do see Sergio Leone. I see Godard. I also see John Waters, I even see some Tim Burton, but most importantly, I see a very cool vampire heroine who walks around town in her veil and sucks the life out of less than amiable townsfolk. I like her. I like her a lot.
You're going to get some heavy political vibes watching a woman in a hijab murder oppressive men in an "Iranian ghost town," and for the first twenty minutes, I was entirely focused on those implications. It's a big statement, and if you're interested in intersectional feminism - or, simply, human rights - this is an important film.
However, you should (and you will) look beyond this eventually, and notice A Girl Walks... for everything else it is, too. I've been all about monsters for this first week of Horror-Thon, and The Girl is as good a boogeyman as it gets.
It's a damn good vampire movie - in a decade full of mediocre, watered-down, Twilight garbage, this is a blessing. It's also shot in beautiful black and white which, considering the necessary blood element, is a bold choice. It looks great.
It's also an adorable romance. Adorable is really the right word. Arash as the Vampire's unlikely love interest is as quirky as John Cusack in any 80s rom-com of your choice, and despite her desire to ask little kids on the street if they've "been a good boy," and then glare her fangs at them, you'll want nothing more than to see our skateboarding vampire girl happy. She means well. Sort of.
Speaking of Leone - if you haven't seen Once Upon A Time In The Westnow is as good a time as ever. This is a bit of a stretch, but for some reason, I'm reminded of Claudia Cardinale as Jill, sitting in the bathtub above the saloon, waiting for the inevitable shootout to start. She says "I could sware we're going to have that strange sound." There's a great shot in this film of The Girl in a bathtub, too - but she's just killed a man or two, and nobody's about to ruin the moment for her. If this is really to be an Iranian Spaghetti Western, then it's nice to see the traditional woman figure portrayed as not only the lead, but in charge of her own situation.
Other Things to Notice:
I'd be remiss not mention the amazing soundtrack in this one. Whole moments are made from bizarre, but fitting, song choices. This was a favorite. Kind of John Hughes-y, no?
But seriously, it's not really like anything. This one's something all on its own.
Stream it tonight on Netflix. Or grab it on Amazon.
If You Like it, Watch:
Let the Right One In - Swedish film from 2008 (yes, there was an American remake), also about vampires - this time a lady vampire under the age of 12. Similar sweetness here, with a lot of blood.
Daughters of Darkness - If you want to go the female vampire route, but like, in an entirely different direction, this is an easy (and sparkly!) choice. It's Belgian. It's poorly dubbed. It's "an erotic vampire film." It's about Elizabeth Bathory (!) And it's kind of beyond words. You know what - just watch this trailer.