A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

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Netflix has been stepping up its game lately. At least with the horror movies. The last few months have seen the likes of Starry Eyes, The Babadook, and now A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. All have been getting a lot of attention from horror bloggers, so it is nice to see that Netflix is listening and getting these films out there for even more fans to enjoy. The last film in that list is the subject for today’s review. It was recently been shown during movie conventions, but wasn’t part of the one that I get a chance to go to twice a year. I’m a little behind getting around to this one because of that, but in a way, it was worth the wait.

Arash (Arash Marandi) is a guy with his share of problems. His dad, Hossein (Marshall Manesh), is a drug addict who owes a lot of money to a dealer. Saeed (Dominic Rains) wants his money though, so he takes Arash’s nice car that Arash has been working to get for a long time now. In order to cover the money, and hopefully get his car back, Arash has started to steal from his employer. Unknown to him, and everyone else, a vampire (Sheila Vand) is in town stalking people and sometimes feeding off them. When Arash meets the vampire though, something odd starts to happen between the two.

A Girl Walks Alone At Night was written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour. While it was filmed and made here in the United States, it is a subtitled film. The story is actually set in a fictional city called Bad City, in the not so fictional country of Iran. It is an odd combination, but it is nice to see a film set somewhere that you aren’t familiar with. This movie doesn’t really get into the culture of Iran, or anything like that. You will need to find a different film if that is what you are looking for. What the movie lacks in culture, it makes up for it in just being weird. I have to say though, when I first saw the title of this film, my first thought was it will be a slasher film. When I started reading about it, I was a bit surprised it was going to be a vampire film instead. Watching a vampire movie has never bothered me, so I was still excited to watch this one. I had very mixed feelings about A Girl Walks Alone At Night after watching it. The film is shot entirely in black and white. I wasn’t sure how well I would like that, even though I don’t have anything against a black and white film. Personally I thought it added to the film some by being shot that way. There is a bleakness about this city. It appears big from what we can see of it, but we see very few people in it. The black and white visuals really managed to add to that. The story has a very slow pace to it. The description for the movie provided by Netflix didn’t really say too much about what the plot is. The story itself doesn’t clue you in for a long time either. Sure, we know there is a vampire and we learn about Arash (who I wasn’t even sure would be the main character for a while), but I had no idea what would happen once the two met. I’m not going to say though, so you can watch the movie if you want to know.

There wasn’t too much going on for effects. The only two I can really think of is a finger bitten off and how the fangs appear. Both are done very well. The finger was pretty cool, not real gory, but as about as gory as you can get for this type of film. The fangs appearing was also real cool. I’m sure it was done with CGI, but to me this is how CGI should be used, for small things that can enhance what we see. The acting was also good. Sheila Vand doesn’t really talk a lot in this film, but she still manages to be creepy. Just the way she follows people and sometimes mimics them was very effective. Arash Marandi was also very good in the lead role. All the supporting actors should get a shout-out for their work as well. The way the characters in the film were introduced was interesting as well. Most of the time we meet a new character thanks to another one. It was rare to see more than two of the characters on screen at a given time. I don’t think there were ever more than three actually.

Music was a big part of this film. Amirpour sometimes leaned on music a bit too much, but there are a few scenes that really stood out with the help of the music that was playing. Sometimes it was just music adding to a scene, other times it was an entire song. One that stands out the most perhaps is the song Death by White Lies. This song plays during the pivotal scene when we start to figure out what is going on. It was a good song choice and the odd thing about it is that the whole song plays through the scene. It isn’t very often that happens. I talked a little about some scenes being weird. There is a pit, or more like a dry river bed to me, of dead bodies to be found. A guy dressed a little in drag dancing around with a balloon. Since Netflix is a pain to watch a scene over again with, I didn’t go back to check but I swear I saw a cat peek out from behind something during an attack by the vampire. Just the way it looked struck me as weird, and a bit funny. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night isn’t much of a horror film. The vampire does attack and kill people here and there, and some scenes can be a little on the creepy side, but I don’t think most fans will call this one a straight horror film. I didn’t mind that too much, but the slow pace could make me feel a little sleepy at times. It is really because of the pace that I’m given it a slightly lower score than I really want to. This is a film worth checking out if you don’t mind it being in black and white along with subtitles. It really is a good film and one I’m looking forward to watching again.

3 out of 5 The cat steals the show I tell you

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.

2 Comments:

  • Vale: Interesting sounding movie... I might see it just because :)
  • cattleworks: Heather!
    This movie played at a local screening room in the Buffalo area called, well, the Screening Room. It’s not a theater, it’s a room that you can rent for parties and functions and it has a big theater-size screen. They play a lot of older films there but occasionally show newer films. Case in point, they showed this one, and when I saw it on their on-line calendar, I was like, "What the hell is THIS?" And my reaction was because I never heard of the movie before. And then it’s described as an "Iranian vampire western," which certainly got my attention.
    So, because it sounded so off-the-wall and weird, I definitely wanted to see it before it left (it played for four nights, I think).
    I liked it a lot.
    It’s like a horror art film, or maybe closer to a fantasy art film. Because the one character is a vampire, it arguably falls into the category of horror, but the horror elements seem less of a priority than the focus on the characters, that the whole vampire aspect seems more like a fantasy element.
    Also, sometimes watching a film because "it’s different" sounds like cheap praise. But, sometimes "different" is a real quality.
    In this case, I liked how the film was different in that it wasn’t what I expected a film shot in Iran to be like, and I’m not talking about the vampire bit. I’m completely ignorant about their culture and, really, I only know about the country (vaguely) through American news headlines, so half of me is expecting some sort of discussion of nuclear treaties, etc.
    Instead, we have these little snap shots of this specific somewhat downtrodden neighborhood and the characters you mentioned.
    I thought the actor playing the pusher (and pimp) was really terrific and a scary character.
    It was interesting seeing that the father was a junkie and how he not only messes up his own life because of his addiction but his son’s as well. Usually, you’d see a younger person **** up his life and the parent torn up or angry about the situation, but here it’s reversed.
    The actress playing the vampire was pretty cool, and I wonder how she became a vampire.
    What I thought was interesting was that now that she was a vampire, it seemed to be something that empowered her character. It was like she had superpowers, strength.
    She sometimes uses her vampiric existence as a tool, like when she scares this local kid. It comes off not so much as her being scary, but that she’s trying to make an impression on the kid to be a good boy. She’s actually behaving maternally, like a guardian and trying to scare him into making good choices or avoiding bad ones.
    It’s hard to talk about too many details without giving things away.
    There’s a couple bits with her and a skateboard that are pretty funny on their own, but they also could be interpreted as an alternative depiction of her bat-like qualities, either "flying" down the street, or inching along like a "hanging bat." Quirky, silly, charming moments.
    Ultimately, I was quite taken by the relationship between the vampire and the son of the junkie and I wondered if they had a connection earlier in their lives.
    It was just a neat film, not really scary, more like a fantasy film, but very thoughtfully put together and very assuredly directed even though it seemed fairly simply put together. The music was neat.
    I wondered if the name of the city, Bad City, was actually like a nickname for something like, uh, Islamabad City (I don’t know if there is an Islamabad City, I’m making up an example) and so, it’s like Frank Miller’s Sin City which is actually a nickname for Basin City. Something like that.
    It’s just a cool little film.
    Good review!

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