Sunday, July 10, 2016

52 Films By Women: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

        A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night follows the story of a boy named Arash (Arash Marandi) who finds himself forming a bond with a vampire named only as The Girl (Sheila Vand) who wanders the streets of a ghost town named "Bad City."

       I thought that the B&W cinematography by Lyle Vincent was very neatly done. It helped capture the eerie mood that tends to be present in the nighttime scenes where The Girl roams around Bad City. Some of the editing by Alex O'Flinn was also done amazingly. One of my favorite edited sequences is one where The Girl is feeding on one of her victims and the sequence keeps cutting to black as the killing takes place.

       The film has been labeled as a feminist vampire western and I can see where the "Western" label comes from because the score seems like something out of a spaghetti western. The film's plot doesn't really give off a western vibe in my opinion. But the western-style score allows the film to be very innovative. Even the opening credits are like something out of a 60's movie.

       There is also one sequence that I thought was expertly written by writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour. When The Girl is being invited into the home of a crook that keeps harassing Arash, it is slowly revealed that she is a vampire. What I liked about that scene is that Amirpour allows the character's actions and the camera to do all of the revealing.

      Aside from the innovation in its filmmaking, there really isn't much else going on. There's hardly much of a story to be found as the characters don't undergo a dramatic arc and there's not even any real drama to begin with. Nothing happens. Not to mention, there are some scenes that either drag on for too long or have no real place in the story.

      While the character of The Girl is quite mysterious, I still found her to be severely underwritten. She has no personality and the only time she shows any real depth is when she interrogates a little boy and makes him promise not to cause any harm to others or be a bad boy. It shows that she likes to kill off people up to no good. Other than that, I don't find any reason to be invested in her. She is practically shrouded in too much mystery.

       The film reminded me a tad of Only Lovers Left Alive by Jim Jarmusch. While that film entirely involves vampires engaging in conversation with no structural storyline, what got me more invested in that film is its characters. They each had distinct personalities that got me invested in the conversations they were engaged in while the characters in this one don't have any personalities to begin with.

      Overall, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is an aesthetically innovative yet otherwise flawed debut by Ana Lily Amirpour. Its story is noncohesive and the characters are underdeveloped but it shows Amirpour's knack for craftsmanship and blending different genres together. Thankfully, because this is Amirpour's feature film debut, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Grade: C-