A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a horror film written and directed by Iranian-American filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour. It is Amirpour’s directorial debut. In it, The Girl (Sheila Vand), a silent vampire, stalks the empty streets of fictional location Bad City at night, preying on the seedy people that inhabit the same empty nighttime landscape. Soon swept into the world of this vampiric prowler are an aging drug-addict Hossein (Marshall Manesh), his drug dealer, and his son Arash (Arash Marandi).
This film isn’t a traditional horror film.The tagline for it reads: “The first Iranian vampire western.” Alone, that sounds like a novel genre-bending excursion. But this film also mixes in strong elements of romance and thriller. Whereas some mixed-genre films lean too heavily on one over the other or have elements of the genres stepping on each others’ toes, A Girl Walks Home creates a natural blend of scary, chilling, heartfelt, and tense.
The first act of the movie lays down the horror framework thanks to a spellbinding and terrifying performance by Vand. She is stone-faced and silent, eerily watching the unsuspecting ones around her. The first third also puts forward some moments of working dark comedy. While not truly containing comedy among its multiple genres, there are moments in this film with effectively funny moments.
Vand’s spine-tingling vampire blossoms into a sympathetic character in the second half of the film. It is a subtle shift that is fascinating to watch. In one extraordinary scene, she stands silently in a two shot with Arash in her room. Even with the distance of this shot and the dark lighting, you can see the range of emotions churning inside The Girl. There is a distinct humanism to the cold-blooded killer that Vand employs very well. Vand’s is truly a remarkable performance.
This film is astoundingly vibrant on all technical fronts. From the cool black-and-white to the decadently terrifying sound work, A Girl Walks Home is wrapped up in a creepy yet heartfelt atmosphere. The sound is of particular note. The score jumps around from a driving Western pastiche to a moody techno thump. The soundtrack utilizes trancy house beats and appropriately selected punk. One scene makes good use of the song “Death” by White Lies. Even the minor sound effects are embellished, all the way down to the crackle of a cigarette drag. All of this sound is masterfully mixed to make for a perfect mood-setter.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen in years. The narrative is a sweet mix between supernatural horror, indie romance, and tense crime thriller. The acting from both leads is superb, particularly the quietly intriguing performance from Sheila Vand. The cinematography is a perfect complement to the mood of the film, especially the sleek black-and-white. The sound mixing is the best of its kind in recent memory. Music and score are perfectly intertwined, and the eclectic musical choices are mesmerizing.
I absolutely love this film. With repeated viewing, it may even sneak up into my list of all-time favorites.
This movie is definitely worth your attention. If you want to check it out, you can find it on Amazon:
As always, thanks for reading!
Have you seen A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!
–Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)