A crisply cool vampire film, shot in beautiful black and white and largely soundtracked by a Persian language band, it is possible that A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night might alienate people even before they settle down and wonder quite where the action has gone. Let those people eat Twilight, this is proper cinema.
The debut film of Ana Lily Amirpour (who makes a fleeting appearance in a rare scene with a fair of dialogue), A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is set in the town of Bad City. A place where people drift. Druggies, prostitutes, loners … the vampire doesn’t seem to be particularly out of place. Some of the characters have names but there’s really no need. They are tropes more than people (at first) and it is the cinematography, sound and direction that gives them depth – and which then connects them. It is common that vampire films drift easily into bloody sensuality but it is rarely so effective as here.
There are few jumps and scares – the occasional hint that a shot might be being set up for an off screen spook doesn’t materialise. Also there is very little hugging and learning. Why people (and vampires) act the way they do is unimportant. They do – and they live with the consequences. Nothing is really explained. And this is a good thing.
You can, of course, be too cool, too arch. But despite flirting near the danger zone A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is defiantly, wonderfully, hypnotically ‘other’ whilst being recognisably human and engaged. If I were a student it’d be the film poster I’d have on my wall. There can be no higher praise.