by Alexa Dalby
The title implies a female in danger but this film reverses those expectations. The Girl (Sheila Vand) is, most likely, the first chador-wearing, skateboarding Iranian vampire you’ve seen on screen. Shot in high contrast black and white, it’s the stylish feature debut for US-based Ana Lily Amirpour, who also wrote the screenplay. Set in the steam-emitting power-station area of Bad City, in a landscape busy with oil derricks and an Eraserhead-like soundtrack of ominous industrial noises, a small cast of characters lead interlocking lives. The silent Girl swoops the night streets in her flowing black robe, feeding on stray men. Only men – she is like a black-cloaked avenger, targeting men, such as Saeed (Dominic Rains), a pimp and drug dealer, but supporting women, such as Shaydah (Rome Shadanloo), a prostitute passing her sell-by date. One night she meets handsome Arash (Arash Marandi), walking home from a fancy dress party dressed as Dracula, out of his head on pills. She takes him back to her basement bedsit, decorate with pop music posters, and from this ironic change encounter an unexpected love story develops. It has visual echoes of early Jarmusch and Lynch. It’s stunning to look at, slow paced, moody and haunting – an original feminist reinterpretation of vampire mythology and its gender politics.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is showing on Oct 13th, 14th & 16th at the 58th BFI London Film Festival