Elena Sheppard
April 21, 2015 9:04 am

We only know her as the “Girl.” She lives in an Iranian ghost town called Bad City. She wears dark eyeliner, and a striped sailor’s shirt under a chador, and travels by skateboard, and covers her bedroom wall in posters of badass women like Margaret Atwood. She falls in love. She has eyes you’ll never forget. She’s a vigilante, feminist vampire who wanders the streets exacting revenge on the men who do women terribly wrong. Intrigued yet?

The film is Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. Shot in black and white and best described as a vampire Western, it is gorgeous and suspenseful and as of today available for your viewing pleasure on the wonder that is Netflix. Watch it, watch it, I implore you to watch it.

Let’s begin with the suspenseful part. The film, which is in Farsi, begins by focusing on Arash, a James Dean channeling gardener who has a drug addicted father and a prized old school Thunderbird. In the shadowy environment of Bad Town, a pimp takes his Thunderbird (to help even a debt with Arash’s father) and Arash meets the Girl — notably while he’s dressed up as Dracula for a costume party. The rest of the movie follows their plots in parallel. Arash while he attempts to takes care of his father, the Girl as she exacts justice on the pimp for taking Arash’s car. The two of them together as they try to make out who the other person really is.

There are a handful of incredibly compelling side characters too: a prostitute who tugs at your heart, plus a few women who are members of Bad Town’s upper class. All of them working together to create a portrait of a haunted town populated by characters who are just as haunted.

The suspense of the film is in the grit of the plot, and the unexpected moments but also, and perhaps more importantly, in the visual shadows that Amirpour uses to define her Bad Town. She isn’t afraid to show stillness either, which when shown on screen is spooky in it’s own right. Which brings us to the “gorgeous” part.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is beautiful. Every shot is a frame you could freeze and then study. For film majors the look will recall both Westerns and horror films, and that familiarity adds to both the gorgeousness and the suspense. The landscapes are as compelling as the close-up reaction shots, which are as beautiful as the scenes of teens dancing to Farsi pop — all of which manage to be creepy in their own unique way.

And now for the Netflix part. This gem of a movie is on Netflix starting now. Should you stream it? Yes. Will you be in awe of Amirpour’s feature directorial debut? 100%. And Sheila Vand who plays the Girl? You will be moved. Will there be regrets? Only if you don’t give this spooky, gorgeous, sometimes terrifying movie a try.

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