What Do You Get When You Combine A Dismal Landscape, Iranian Vampires, and Romance?

Ana Lily Amirpour’s Film Debut: “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” (2014) — The World’s First Iranian Vampire Spaghetti Western Film Review

A female vampire wearing a chador stands looking at an unseen character.

I’ve been wanting to watch this for some time but haven’t had the opportunity until deciding to split a year subscription of Shudder with my roommate and delightfully finding this dark gem tucked in the back of the “Bloodsucker” category. I’m naturally drawn to Arab horror because I mean… Arab horror. Throw in black & white cinematography and opening the film with a hot Persian man rescuing a cat? Sold. Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut film, paired with her words “the first Iranian vampire spaghetti western”, I can entirely understand why my obscure film groups praise such a playful and diverse film.

Arash, our film’s leading man, worked 2,191 days to save up and purchase his vintage car. His father is a junkie, who of course, owes money to his dealer. His dealer comes to collect and instead take’s Arash’s car to his dismay. The dealer is a nasty man with a fumanchu and no respect for anyone — not even himself. We first see The Girl creeping on the dealer while one of his ladies of the night goes down on him in Arash’s car. He gets a glimpse and panics, kicking Atti to the curb. We see a yield sign with what we will soon learn is our protagonist skateboarding away... a fun little egg to catch. I like the way she wears her chador, almost like a superhero’s cape.

A very attractive Persian man smokes a cigarette while leaning against a wooden shed.

The Girl is a vampire. She feeds on evil-doers and those who will probably not be missed in our Iranian ghost town, Bad City. In the evenings she dances to David Bowie and darkens her eyes with kohl before hitting the city to stalk it’s inhabitants. There’s something comforting about this mysterious, veiled figure. Historically, vampires are considered monsters. Bloodsuckers, creatures you wouldn’t want to cross paths with in the night for fear of death. But there is a quiet attraction that pulls viewers into the main characters — a desire to know more.

A female vampire in a chador begins to turn around to face the camera.
A female vampire in a chador begins to turn around to face the camera.

Arash and The Girl cross paths and are pulled into a solemn but understanding relationship with one another. They probably shouldn’t be together, but the loneliness living in such a dismal city brings is bound to drive lost souls together. There is a subtle push and pull between them, The Girl is ashamed of her crimes — further pushing her into a protagonist role, while Arash is at a crossroads in life, with dire decisions needing to be made. Will our two young, Iranian lovers make it out of Bad City alive together? Was that an incredibly cheesy question? Will I stop asking questions and simply implore you to watch for yourself?

A female vampire wearing a chador holds a cat to the camera.
A female vampire wearing a chador holds a cat to the camera.

The grainy, black and white direction this film takes is a lovely addition to help support the narrative. Color would’ve taken the viewers somewhere else, lessening the impact. I’ve seen the film often compared to those of Jim Jaramusch (Dead Man, Coffee and Cigarettes) and echo those thoughts entirely. Jaramusch is a master at creating atmosphere, cinema that truly pulls you all the way in and doesn’t let go until the credit begin to roll. Amirpour pulls this off beautifully. Pairing the artful camerawork, with a killer soundtrack, plotline like no other, and entrusting talented Iranian actors to push her vision into a moving picture. I’d recommend you seek out “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night”, the world’s first Iranian vampire spaghetti western. As always, if you do, let me know what you think! Persian speakers can catch the film, sans English subtitles, here. AA

A half Bahraini/Baloch independent film enthusiast with a casual writing style and a few things to say.