Review: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Sheila Vand in “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.”

Dir. Ana Lily Amirpour. 101 minutes.

Unassuming young Arash (Arash Marandi) is terrorized by Saeed (Dominic Rains), a brutal pimp to whom Arash’s father owes money. For Arash, salvation comes in the form of a hijab-wearing female vampire (Sheila Vand) who feeds on the blood of misogynists.

Shot in lustrous black-and-white, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” takes obsessive attention to detail in laying out its nightmarish urban fantasy world. The film has been billed as a “vampire Western,” though, aside from a score copying — sorry, “influenced by” — Ennio Morricone, this sleek, elegant movie is more vampire than Western. A vampire must be invited into a house to enter, but it turns out this isn’t very tricky to manage if you’re an attractive young vampiress and your preferred victims are too-self-assured men. Saeed, who first swaggers into frame in a tracksuit and gold chains, is an especially delightful specimen of machismo: the very definition of “asking for it,” in the context of a feminist vampire movie.

“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” is set in Iran but shot in California, presumably because its female-on-male vigilantism, and the inclusion of a minor cross-dressing character, would have invited interference if shot on location. For all its gloss, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” does sometimes lapse from deliberate and enigmatic to merely slow. The film’s climax is marred by several tediously lengthy shots of characters sitting motionless, and other signs of film-student self-indulgence. Still, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” is a unique creation, well worth viewing for anyone who’s enjoyed other revisionist vampire tales like “Let the Right One In” or “Only Lovers Left Alive.”