Hello and Hallo-welcome to another edition of Blood Thirsty Thursdays, where hopefully only the vampires suck. You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, as they settle in to watch their first Farsi-Vampire-Romance-Western.
Today’s film offering: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Lilly: The first vampire film to be set in a Middle-Eastern setting (though filmed in California), A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the story of the inhabitants of Bad City, a run down ghost town in Iran that is deader than the protagonist of the film, a vampire known only as ‘the girl’ in the credits. Shot in black and white and featuring subtitles (Persian is used for the dialogue, unsurprisingly), it stands out not just for its rarity but for its approach to the vampire on film, especially the female vampire.
Andy: Which are fairly rare anyway, at least alone. The only vampire film I can think of off the top of my head with all-female vampires is Brides of Dracula, and even they only exist in the title in relation to a male character – one that’s been dead since the last movie!
Lilly: Hey now, don’t forget Daughters of Darkness (Andy: Oh yeah!) . But you’re right, they are super rare, and if they are around, you are more likely to come across Vampira types than the variation you see in male vampires, from Nosferatu to that Cullen Boy. Instead of vampy fashion and stereo-typically sexy attire, this vampire wears a chādor and a striped shirt, eyes lined with black and lips a dark red (well, one guesses, as it is a black and white film) that seems more of a move to ‘fit in’ than to attract. The fourth most sexualized character in the film–I see you, Arash (the male lead), with your James Dean looks and tight trousers–she actually blends in while standing out. The only other female we see wearing a chādor is wearing a colourfully printed one, even.
Andy: Not to mention it actually makes a vampire threatening again. We’ve been over-exposed to both the Eastern European aristocrat and the waifish fop – now we’ve got someone in Middle Eastern attire lurking in shadows and attacking people – something that is somewhat coded as threatening in the modern Western world anyway. Who wants to ask themselves uncomfortable questions?
Lilly: While the depiction of the undead is shook up a bit, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night features some of the basic tropes of a vampire tale. However, while you usually get the point of view of the person who is falling in love with the vampire (who is usually female because chicks love fangs, amirite?), this film works between the two points of view of ‘The Girl’ and Arash, a put upon son of a junkie father who tries to work with what is dealt to him. ‘The Girl’ remains mysterious (who is she? How old is she? What does she want?) and almost mischievous at times while still, as Andy mentioned, bringing the threatening air at just the right moments.
Andy:Or to put it another way, she pootles around on a skateboard and then can appear RIGHT BEHIND YOU.
There is a plot to this movie, but it’s much more about tone and mood than anything that actually happens. There’s a slow, meditative quality to the whole thing, and many scenes are open to multiple interpretations. It’s, like, deep man. I mean, in a poverty-ridden city with oil derricks as far as the eye can see and a hell of a drug problem, is a vampire really the worst thing lurking in the streets?
Of course, if you’re more into shocks and thrills and violence, this probably isn’t for you. But if you want to watch something that truly defies genre, you should definitely check this out.
Lilly: There is a lot to be said for this film, and for once, I don’t desperately want to spoil it with details discussed. For this review, I think the simple fact that it is so different should be a reason you give it a chance. Go, watch, and enjoy!