This Persian/American film dreamily mixes lonely drama with the horror of vampires and it’s a fascinating watch if nothing else. Though there is something else, music and visuals that may take away typical horror tropes but land you in a land of originality and style.
Arash (Arash Marandi) lives with his heroin abusing father and one night loses his car to drug dealing Saeed (Dominic Rains). On this same night a wandering and alone woman makes Saeed her victim. The Girl (Sheila Vand) is actually a vampire and enjoys the nights, but is soon struck by the compassion shown to her by Arash as he crosses paths with her on a walk home himself.
I’m late to the party with this film and after hearing about it or seeing it on reviewers top films of the last year I thought I’d give the movie a whirl. There is a definite amount of intrigue in this subdued black and white feature. Just the title credits alone that almost whirr into broken cassette sounds bring a level of mystery, but putting that over the slowed sight of Arash walking past a ditch of corpses, well you have my attention. It’s a film that follows this subdued nature as we see more of Arash and The Girl and how they interact through words or the lack of.
Ana Lily Amirpour writes and directs from a similar short she had in 2012. The screenplay is minimal of dialogue but packed full of interesting ideas that play around with vampires and relationships. The almost surreal factor here is that this film has a romantic feel to it, a noir love found between mortal and immortal beings. It’s great to see a horror not play on jumps and really not play on being a horror, it’s more a drama about the horror of a vampire being in the midst of this town.
Amirpour picks a fantastic selection of tracks to accompany the scenes. It’s the music that lifts this film to further heights of intrigue. The English language pop/electro beats tinged with a grunge like sound suit the almost mute female vamp. The music provides a strange mystical and seductive quality that lives up to the characteristics of the vampire herself. If the music wasn’t there or the same I feel the film wouldn’t be the same in any way, it’s what makes it so much more.
I must say that I preferred the first half or two thirds of the film, as it began shifting into the closing chapters and The Girl’s impact over the life of Arash it drifted into something slow and for me unengaging. The romanticism seemed to be lost and in general it felt like the narrative was losing it’s way of any punch or suspense. Thank God then for the last frame of the movie where we see the two leads and a cat sat staring in a car, that edge and static desire between the pair sums up what the most part of the film was about.
Sheila Vand was a delight to watch, she feeds a longing into her eyes as she stalks the town by night. The almost unfeeling facial expressions become a feeling as she lonely takes her victims or finds herself empty. Arash Marandi has a good go at the wavering good guy role, the kindness comes across and he also portrays that gnawing emotion of lonliness.
So much style and sound give this unique film a healthy bite of quality that really goes a long way to show off what a great debut this is for Amirpour but also that vampires can still be mined for original ideas.