‘Twilight’ has a rival in vampire vigilante

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night movie poster

The “Twilight” saga has a new rival.

Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut feature film, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” released Tuesday on DVD, offers a surreal look at a teenage girl that uses her vampire fangs for a good cause.

The first Iranian vampire Western is set in Bad City, a fabricated Persian ghost town where stereotypes of villainous characters and versions of pop icons roam the streets. The Girl (Sheila Vand, “Argo”) serves as the city’s vigilante. She roams the streets of Bad City to feed and in the process eliminate criminals.

The Girl dwells in a disco-lit living space. There are no coffins, just posters of singers and actresses hanging on her wall.

In another narrative string, there’s the Persian James Dean (Arash Marandi). Looking flawless in a white T-shirt and jeans, he has a cat sidekick. He’s hardworking, but suffers from living with his drug addict father, The Gambler (Marshall Manesh).

Narratives combine when the Persian James Dean and The Girl cross paths. Ironically, he’s dressed as Dracula. She helps him solve his problems, and he shows her love.

Other characters include the Prostitute (Mozhan Marnò, “Charlie Wilson’s War”), who looks liked a dried-out version of Sophia Loren and tries to survive in a city of people who want to use her. The Little Boy (Milad Eghbali) isn’t a villain, but seems destined for that path. The Girl gives him a good warning.

The Rich Girl (Rome Shadanloo, “How I Met Your Mother”) and the Rockabilly (Reza Sixo Safai) also live in Bad City. One seeks adventure and the other is gay and goes largely unnoticed.

The Pimp, perhaps Bad City’s most notorious villain, reaps financial gain and strength from the weaknesses of others.

There’s an obvious allusion to human desires and crimes through the characters. The film personifies those human tendencies to reflect on cause and effect, forcing viewers to give the film serious thought and consideration.

Through the slow rise of actions in the film, The Girl becomes an icon herself, like the pop stars she idolizes. She’s stylized through her full chador, which floats behind her as she follows her prey. She even rides a skateboard.

The film thrives on its cinematography, where black and white does not seem colorless but alive, and its airy narrative. Not much happens in “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” making every moment of the film impactful. The occasional long shots remind viewers of the beauty of simplicity, and the music, ranging from Persian folk songs to Lionel Richie, accompanies the images like a best friend.

 

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