This is the “Iranian vampire spaghetti western” you’ve likely heard about. Iranian-American filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour dubbed her debut film that herself, and I’ll cram two more modifiers in there: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the Iranian skateboarding vampire feminist spaghetti western we have all been waiting for. We just didn’t realize it till now. The tiny release it had in the U.S. last autumn (after its acclaimed appearance at 2014 Sundance) meant not many people had a chance to see it, but now it’s available on demand (it opens theatrically in the U.K. in May), and I recommend it highly for its fresh feel of creepy cool. Shot in Southern California but with dialogue in Farsi, this is the tale of an unnamed Girl (Sheila Vand: Argo) who haunts the nearly deserted streets of the fictional Iranian town Bad City, dispatching wicked men — particularly men who hurt women — with her bloodsucking fangs and warning little boys to behave themselves, because she’s watching. Amirpour is more concerned with atmosphere than plot, and yet the uncanny aura she creates, with the help of Lyle Vincent’s gorgeously sinister black-and-white cinematography, envelopes the Girl’s unlikely new relationship with kindly (and mortal) Arash (Arash Marandi) and engorges the slender story with suspense and desire. This is an enrapturing film, as fun as it is eerie, and marks the arrival of a major new talent with an innovative eye and a refreshingly unconventional approach to cinematic storytelling even as she covers seemingly well-trod ground. I can’t wait to see what she’s got up her sleeve next.
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