Cousin Franz: The desolate streets of Bad City, Tehran aren’t desolate in the war-wounded, bullet-pocked, 1979-way in which most of us picture Persia post-Ayatollah. The desolation is a modern one, a suburban kind of emptiness that could easily be chronicled in an Arcade Fire video. This makes sense: Writer / Director Ana Lily Amirpour may have set “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” in a fictional Iranian suburb, but the movie was shot in Southern California. What better place for a girl vampire in a chador (Sheila Vand) to pursue a quiet relationship with a boy human (Arash Marandi)? He has put on HIS parody of a chador: a Dracula costume he donned in order to deal ecstasy at the costume party of an upper-class crush- a party he’s left in disappointment.
“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” was well-received in the art-house circuit and touted itself as “the first Iranian Horror/ Western.” The “Western” part is not worth talking about (it’s limited to a couple of soundtrack choices that nod to Quentin Tarantino’s curatorial instincts and love for Ennio Morricone) – unless Amirpour meant a roundabout joke as to her UN-Eastern deconstruction of the East. The “Horror” part does merit a conversation: What IS horror? Is something horror if it does not intend to create horror, or suspense, or even excitement? In no way a “scary movie,” Amirpour’s feature debut borrows a “Horror” concept (vampirism) and sets it loose in a dream-like drama about a generation of young Iranians (both in country and in the diaspora) who want to re-interpret themselves beyond the failed promises of the past. Aside from “The Girl and the Boy,” other denizens of Bad City include Marshall Manesh (lovable cab-driving Ranjit from “How I Met Your Mother”), Mozhan Marno (“The Stoning of Soraya M”); and a memorably menacing Dominic Rains as “The Pimp”, looking for all the world like Ninja from Die Antwoord, a band the director would remember in the soundtrack of her follow-up, “The Bad Batch.”
Tracey: I want to say how brilliant this feminist statement is! It’s like if Ana Lily Amirpour was Jim Jarmusch, but infinitely better because SHE is an Iranian-American female from California via Miami, whereas Jim Jarmusch is… well, you know.
Trent: What! WHITE? MALE?
Tracey: No, FROM OHIO! That’s gross.
Beatricia: Jim Jarmusch is an indie silver fox and I pity any foolish girl who would contend otherwise. As for this movie, it’s reassuring to know that no matter how far one travels in this world of ours, young people everywhere will be ruined by Lana del Rey videos, molly, and the debilitating need to create exhausting mixtapes and playlists for their platonic affections. “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” does have the undeniable beauty of its black and white cinematography to justify its existence. On an “artsy music video” level, I happily grant it a Cherry. What did you think, Hanky?
Hank: Wha- what? Sorry, babe, guess I dozed off a while back. Had the oddest dream, something about vampires skateboarding!
Beatricia: No, the skateboard was actually a plot point.
Grandpa Felicius: I quite understand that movie vampires have eternity at their command and can therefore afford to creep about in slow-motion with no concept of time. Unfortunately, I’m not a vampire. My hours upon this Earth are counted, and “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” wasted two of them by refusing to understand that zombies are slow and vampires are FAST. These are the basis of Western Civilization! Why won’t the Persians play by our rules?
Trent: This was boring. They should have called it something snappier, like “Home Alone 4: Girl Night Walker!” Now that’s a name with a pulse to it!
Blurbarella: “Vampires skateboarding– This is brilliant– This was boring.”
3 out of 6 Cherries