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"A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night": The Iranian Vampire Western Lives Up to Its Genre 

Tuesday, Dec 2 2014
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Ana Lily Amirpour's fantastic A Girl Walks Home at Night is being promoted as "the first Iranian Vampire Western," an accurate if somewhat reductive description, since there's so much more going on. In the industrial wasteland of Bad City — Taft, Calif., standing in for Iran, with echoes of Jim Thompson's underworld of El Rey — a chador-wearing, skateboard-riding vampire known as the Girl (Sheila Vand) stalks the various criminals and lowlifes that populate the town, at least when not dancing to her favorite jams in her apartment. Things change when she finds herself falling for a sensitive young man named Arash (Arash Marandi), and while the love story is not without its touching moments, the story ultimately isn't as important as the mood and relentless cleverness on display. (Amirpour can also direct the heck out of a cat.) Like so many debut films, A Girl Walks Home at Night wears its influences on its stripey sleeve, and Amirpour's acknowledged fondness for Sergio Leone and David Lynch is evident in the striking widescreen black-and-white cinematography, Bad City's stark suburban decay also recalls Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise. And speaking of whom, with all due respect to Jarmusch's recent work, Amirpour's A Girl Walks Home at Night is the best vampire film of the year.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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