Complete A-Z list

Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, A


Stars: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Dominic Rains, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marno, Milad Eghbali

Director: Ana Lily Amirpour

After decades of Dracula along with lashings of Messrs Max Schreck, Lugosi and Lee and the sadly now dormant Hammer Films, I never really expected to see a genuinely different vampire movie.

Of course, being a film critic, I was wrong.

This riveting one-of-a-kind shocker vividly instills life into an increasingly clichéd genre with its extraordinary tale of a lonely female vampire stalking the streets of Bad City.

For a start, Bad City is in Iran.

It’s a bleak, empty place, populated by prostitutes, drug addicts, pimps and similar antiheroes. And there a lonely female vampire sups on the blood of her luckless victims – until, strangely, she finds true love.

And, the first of its genre, the dialogue is in Farsi.

It’s seriously scary.

And, adding to the mounting atmosphere of unease and fear, because American-based Iranian-born writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour, would not have been able to make her film in her native country, Bad City has been uniquely brought to eerie life by being shot in Taft, California.

The backgrounds may look American: the mise en scene certainly is not.

Says Amirpour of her film, “It’s like Sergio Leone and David Lynch has an Iranian rock ‘n’ roll baby, and then Nosferatu came and babysat for them”.

She is being a tad too modest. The film is very much her own.

While A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night has resonances of the work of other filmmakers, the final result is the work of a genuine auteur whose blend of startling storytelling – the catalytic genuinely unexpected change of direction in the narrative is brilliant and perfectly executed – fine performances and superb black-and-white widescreen cinematography (Lyle Vincent).

Sheila Vand as the prowling blood-drinker and “The Persian James Dean” Arash Marandi as her lover are first rate. And all the other performances are equally effective.

If you believe that you know all there is to know about horror films in general, and vampire movies in particular, think again.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Black and white.
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 3, Swearing 2.

Review date: 22 May 2015