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A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Released 22 May 2015
Director Ana Lily Amirpour

Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marno, Dominic Rains, Rome Shadanloo, Milad Eghbali, Reza Sixo Safai, Ray Haratian
Writer(s) Ana Lily Amirpour

Ana Lily Amirpour, Justin Begnaud, Sina Sayyah
Origin United States
Running Time 99 minutes
Genre Horror, romance, thriller
Rating TBC

Blood and sand.

If a childhood hooked on The X-Files has taught me anything, it’s that there are as many different kinds of vampires as there are cultures that fear them. The same could be said of the movie vampire - a character who is so culturally elastic that it has been moulded into hundreds of different forms to suit time and place. Of course not all of these iterations are successful but occasionally a gem comes along that blends tradition and originality to create a vampiric vision that is strikingly beautiful. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is one such film - a fierce yet touching portrait of a lonely outsider, who just happens to have a taste for blood.

Girl Walks Home is shot in crisp, luminous black and white and is soaked in style. The opening shots introduce us to Arash (Arash Marandi), a beautiful young man channeling James Dean with his quiff, jeans and white t-shirt with rolled up sleeves. He lives in Bad City, an Iranian town where the sadness and desperation of its inhabitants seems to hang in the air. One night, as Arash wanders the street in a drug addled haze following a party, he meets a girl (Sheila Vand). She is silent as she approaches him, her traditional hijab fluttering behind her like a cloak as she skateboards the darkened streets. Arash becomes fascinated by the girl, unaware of her true, dangerous nature.

The following scene, during which Arash and the girl listen to a song in her basement bedroom, is just one of many which gave me chills and goosebumps. I can’t remember the last time I had such a physical reaction to a film and I found it hard to shake the feeling that writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour, along with cinematographer Lyle Vincent, have produced something that is very special indeed. By setting the film in Iran, they are able to play not only with the mythology of vampirism but also the cultural traditions that weave their way in and out of the lives of a new generation of Muslims. This contextual richness will ensure I return to it again and again.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is surely set to take its place among the modern classics of the vampire genre, right next to Let the Right One In. The film casts a spell with its beautiful visuals while telling a love story that veers between moments of gruesome bloodshed and haunting beauty.

- Linda O’Brien