From director Ana Lily Amirpour comes A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, perhaps the first Spaghetti Western meets vampire movie mashup. Filmed in black and white and completely in Farsi, Girl takes us around Bad City, a realm of dead citizens left in ditches that are barely noticed by passersby. Those that survive are perpetually preyed upon by gangsters, drug dealers, and a lonely vampire.
Sheila Vand is the titular character with the thirst for blood. But she is discerning. Like a vigilante, she seeks out the reprobates, prodding those teetering on the edge to be “good boy[s],” lest she follow them around “until [they] die.” As with any vampiric figure, the Girl poses a question of nobility. She survives on the lives of others, but does her extermination of less savory characters inversely increase her own worthiness?
Those that she devours on screen are a drug dealer and a heroin junkie. Those that she seeks to protect are a young boy; Arash, the lonely bullied, but good-hearted son of the drug dealer; and a thirty-year old prostitute. Within the latter group, the Girl tells us a bit about herself. In all appearances, she is no more than twenty. Too young when she became a vampire, she has been prohibited from experiencing love. Thus, her interest in Arash, a twenty-something man teetering between an honest life and one of criminality. As for the prostitute, the Girl sees something of a wasted life within her and tries to put her back on a more legitimate path.
However, the primary argument in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is that we often see the world in binary forms of “good” and “bad,” whereas the real composition is replete with gray area. To support this position, the film is shot in stark blacks and white, with each character exhibiting both, as if they are internally fighting their own noble and evil tendencies. The same can be said for the Girl as she’s shot on screen and her existence: she hunts those she sees as nefarious and aides those she sees as worthy.
Through her repeated use of oil derricks, Amirpour also suggests that the world we’ve created is as equally vampiric as the character that she’s created. While I don’t believe that Amirpour is railing against oil consumption or attempting to make us aware of the global energy supply, she is highlighting our rather endemically parasitic nature, and the way in which this parasitism leads to advancement – whether we’d like to admit it or not.