A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is an Iranian vampire film currently on at ACMI. It’s only on for another week so go now! It’s one of the coolest vampire films I’ve seen. It’s possibly better than the recent Only Lovers Left Alive. It’s also very strange in its late 1980s / early 1990s American indie noir western influences. Beware the spoilers that follow.
Imagine Iran to be completely culturally isolated, but for someone who lives there to be given pirated copies of late 1980s and early 1990s films like Vampire’s Kiss, Red Rock West and David Lynch’s Wild at Heart. If you then asked them to make a vampire film based on these influences, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is what they’d make. But Iran is not entirely culturally isolated, so there’s no reason why these particular influences should be so apparent. It’s just wonderful that they are.
A Heathers era Winona Ryder lookalike vampire girl wearing a typically late 1980s off the shoulder striped top (with a faux Madonna debut album cover photo on the wall of her room) wanders around at night, riding her skateboard with her chador flapping behind her like a cape, killing mostly bad guys.
The cool but not perfectly cool and slightly goofy guy she meets has something of the young Nick Cage’s 1950s renegade wannabe about him, from his American car to his white tshirt with rolled up sleeves (Wild at Heart). In one scene he’s had an E and gone to a party dressed as Dracula. His dopey mumbling through plastic vampire teeth is totally Vampire’s Kiss.
We’re in some weird almost uninhabited fringe town industrial area surrounded by oil rigs (Red Rock West). There’s an open drainage channel that’s dried up and used as a mass dumping ground for dead bodies. Moody shots of a transvestite sex worker seem disconnected from the rest of the narrative. It features many Lynchian affectations, such as extreme closeups and extremely amplified sounds, such as of a cigarette burning, as well as the kind of discordant noise in Twin Peaks.
It doesn’t make perfect sense and it doesn’t need to because it’s beautiful.