A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night // Review

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a moody, atmospheric vampire movie showing at Walker Art Center over the next few weeks, is a perfect film for the Halloween season. It’s a subtitled Iranian film, shot in shadowy black and white with a purposeful soundtrack and actors with distinct, memorable faces. It’s not a horror movie by any means, but there are certain moments, when the character of the vampire is at her cruelest, that seem like a horror film, such as a scene where she confronts a little boy in a dark alley at night. The plot is strange and sometimes hard to follow, and the characters are even more perplexing. However, the pacing of the film and the many dark, lingering shots create the perfect balance between creepy and beautifully moving.

The movie follows a young man named Arash, a brooding Elvis Presley lookalike who works menial jobs in order to support his dying father’s drug habits. In the empty industrial city where he lives, we also meet drug dealers, upper-class beauty queens, a cat and, most importantly, a lanky, mysterious young woman whom we quickly learn is a vampire. We first see the young woman in her room, walls plastered with posters of Western pop culture, dancing to American music on her record player as she puts on dark eyeliner and lipstick (all things forbidden in Iran). It’s a stark contrast to later scenes where she rides a skateboard alone down the streets, her long black chador billowing out behind her. An aura of forbidden glamour cloaks her, emphasized by the contrast between her black chador, dark lipstick and her white-striped bloodstained T-shirt. Ana Lily Amirpour, the actress who plays the vampire and also directs the film, has the perfect hollow cheekbones and mysterious languor for the part.

The film has relatively little dialogue and contains its story mostly in long, slow-motion shots of rooms and faces. Sometimes the silence feels at odds with the suspenseful nature of the plot and bogs down certain moments, but the crisp, intense soundtrack makes up for it and builds the suspense. That suspense never really resolves, and as the credits begin to roll, it leaves a lingering feeling of anxiety. It’s unsettling, romantic, beautiful and heart-pounding all in one. Don’t see it alone, though, or you’ll jump at every noise on the way home.