It is an American-Iranian, female-directed vampire movie. Shot in black-and-white and entirely in subtitled Persian, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a very unusual and artsy movie. The film has been described as a “spaghetti western” as well, but that’s a bit more difficult for me to see. If all these disparate elements seem odd, the director’s background may help explain it. Ana Lily Amirpour was born in England, but of Iranian heritage. She moved to the United States as a child and began making movies quite early. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is her best-known film to date (I only found out about it by reading a book about horror films that recommended it.)
The title may set certain expectations that will be subverted by the film. There will be spoilers here, so if you’re likely to see the film you might want to wait to read on. Who knows? Maybe spoilers will make you want to see it. The girl who walks home alone is the vampire. She’s perfectly safe at night. The story involves her falling in love with a compassionate young man who’s trying to support his heroin-addicted father. The movie is quite gritty. The girl is a conflicted vampire, which happens to be my favorite kind. She’s never explained. She simply is. Her first victim that we see is the drug-dealer and pimp who’s pressuring the young man’s family. Although they live in poverty, he takes their car in payment. He’s a nasty piece of work.
The young man, also conflicted, takes over the dead thug’s drug-selling business, but doesn’t take advantage of people. The vampire is attracted to his virtue. She also befriends one of the thug’s prostitutes because she’s sad. Apart from the dead petty crime boss, everyone in Bad City lives in humble circumstances. The young man finally throws his father out of the house. The vampire attacks him, leaving him dead. The young man, in love with the vampire but not knowing she’s a vampire, talks her into leaving with him although he can see she’s implicated in his father’s death. This is a most unusual film, praised for its feminine outlook. That’s unusual in both vampire movies and horror, but there’s no reason that it should be rare. More of an art-house movie than a cineplex blockbuster, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a movie that will leave you wondering. And that, it seems to me, is a good thing.