Vampire films hold a special place in the hearts of some horror movie fans, and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is no exception. This modern take on horror is directed and written by Ana Lily Amirpour, and was produced by VICE Films. The film showcases Sheila Vand as the film’s vampire female lead, with Arash Marandi playing her star-crossed lover, a young handyman named Arash. Vand seems distant from any emotions throughout the feature, while Marandi plays a confused young man who is happy to just be noticed by a member of the opposite sex. As with the film Spring, this movie attempts to bring together multiple genres, such as horror and romance, but falls short in the end.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night begins with a struggling handyman in his early twenties, who supports himself and his heroin-addicted father, bringing home a stray cat. Hoping the feline present will help his father get off drugs, Arash’s reality is shattered when a local drug dealer takes his car as payment for money owed by his father. The same drug dealer also works as a pimp and is the epitome of male hedonistic attitudes.
While receiving fellatio from one of his prostitutes, he sees a more striking woman in his newly-acquired rear-view window. He tells the woman he is with to stop, taking her money as he kicks her out of the car. This new woman, who wears a cape over a horizontally-striped shirt, is the female lead of the film, played by Vand. She travels to the dealer’s house with him, where he learns what it is like for the women he uses to be treated like a piece of meat himself. After feeding, the vampire with morals leaves the front gate unlocked, and the handyman character goes to the apartment to buy back his car. Upon entering, Varandi finds the drug peddler dead, and takes the keys to his car as well as the dead man’s stash of money and drugs.
Though the first time viewers are treated to a kill is certainly memorable, the first scene where the film stands out is when our vampiress comes across a small boy at night, riding his skateboard. He tries to escape, but 20 feet later he runs smack dab into the woman, scaring him to death. She asks him if “he is a good boy,” to which he says yes. She asks a second time, getting closer, telling him to not lie, and he gives the same answer.
Then Vand bares her fangs and gets right next to his ear, and as she speaks to him, her voice takes on a truer tone, one befitting a queen of the damned. In this chilling tone, she assures him she could pluck out his eyes and feed it to dogs, and that she will be watching him the rest of his life. That he had “better be a good boy!” The vampire of this film has a lot of heart.
He runs away, escaping death and leaving his skateboard behind, surely promising to himself to grow up a good man. Then, as one would expect the lady vampire to stalk and kill her prey, the viewers are treated to another surprise, even better than the voice. She picks up the skateboard and skates down the street, her cape flowing behind her as she smiles.
The film continues to add brilliant shades of lightness to this female creature of darkness, which is partly what is so beautiful about the character, nay, the film itself. One sees our newest drug dealing dork come to her and sniff her hair while he is high on Ecstasy, at first from the drug, until her presence alone is enough to get Marandi high. She puts her ear to his chest and listens to his heart beating like a bass drum at a rock concert, but not like Lars Ulrich setting a fast, raw pace, but a hard, reverberating thud after thud, as only a vampire with supersonic hearing can hear.
Moments later, the beautiful being who could be killed by sunlight is spotted skating towards, then murdering, a hobo. This blend of humor, heartfelt moments, and heart-stopping scenes as victims bleed out is quite spectacular. Rarely do movies splice together so many emotions and concepts of the human condition as flawlessly as this film does.
The ending seems rushed, however, and therefore the film is not able to capitalize on the strengths it begins to exhibit halfway through. The final rating this movie gets is a six out of ten, and has much to do with the disappointing final act. While there are moments captured in A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night that are worthwhile, eventually it falls short of the film’s full potential. This is still a decent vampire film with heart, and is good enough to watch, but is not a film that merits watching multiple times.
By Benjamin Johnson
Viewing of A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night