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Film / A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the 2014 first feature film of Iranian-American writer/directer Ana Lily Amirpour. It's a film about vampires, prostitution, teenage angst, and drug use.

The film takes place in Bad City, a fictional hellhole in Iran. A young man named Arash (Arash Marandi) is trying to get by while taking care of his heroin-addict father Hossein (Marshall Manesh), all the while being harrased by pimp/drug-dealer Saeed (Dominic Rains). Eventually, he resorts to stealing a pair of earrings in order to pay Saeed back and reclaim his beloved car. While waiting for Saeed by the gate, he sees a girl in a black chador (Sheila Vand) leaving his apartment. This mysterious girl enjoys skateboarding, listening to music, and killing the bad men of Bad City...

This film provides examples of:

  • Addled Addict: Hossein is sick on heroin, although he has a few lucid scenes.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: Each character seems to exemplify a different time period in their clothing and demeanor: The Girl, with her striped shirt, short hair, and love of records, seems either a '60s or contemporary hipster; Arash has his '50s Greaser thing going on; Saeed is an '80s Gang Banger; Atti looks like she walked out of the 1930s, etc. The actual set looks modern, with oil drills and powerplants in the background.
  • Almost Kiss: When the Girl takes Arash home, she gets very close to kissing him, but doesn't. Then she looks like she's about to bite him, but doesn't do that either.
  • Asshole Victim: Saeed is an obnoxious loan shark, pimp, and drug dealer, and Hossein was killed by the Girl immediately after he tied Atti up and forcibly injected her with heroin.
  • Badass Chador: Director Ana Lily Amirpour has stated that a major inspiration for the film was throwing on a black chador like the Girl's in the film and realizing how cool it looked.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Bad, as in Bad City, has the same meaning in both English and Persian.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: After the Girl kills Saeed, Arash finds a briefcase of money and drugs in his flat and uses it to rather half-heartedly set himself up as a dealer.
  • Cool Car: Arash's 1957 Ford Thunderbird, which gets seized by Saeed to pay Hossein's debts.
  • Creator Cameo: Director and writer Ana Lily Amirpour also plays Shirin, the girl in skeleton facepaint at the party. Additionally, she does all the long and mid-distance shots of the Girl actually skateboarding, as Sheila Vand couldn't skate. There's also a picture of her on the wall in the Girl's apartment.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Heavily tattooed men, scenes of the protagonist getting high at a party, and skateboards all feature in Amirpour's later film The Bad Batch too.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Shot in stark black-and-white, despite the heavy red used in marketing.
  • Disposable Vagrant: A random rough sleeper is the second man who the Girl kills for their blood, and the only one who isn't an Asshole Victim.
  • Does Not Like Men: The Girl kills three men in the film, two of whom were actively abusive to the same woman, and never harms or threatens a woman. The only man she seems to like is Arash, who is tender to her.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The Girl. Fitting, as she is a vampire.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: While the relationship is not without tension, she appears to enjoy a courtship with Arash.
  • Fingore: The Girl bites off Saeed's finger before draining him.
  • Feeling Your Heartbeat: Featured in the climax of an early scene where The Girl takes an inebriated Arash home, and they listen to music together in her room. The scene is a silent oner which at face value looks like a teenage Meet Cute scene, but the important context is that unbeknownst to Arash, the Girl is a vampire who's already been shown killing someone for their blood. The direction of the scene makes it look like she's to lean into his face for a kiss (which she doesn't), before gazing at his neck for a bite (which she doesn't), finally settling on resting her head on his chest, quietly listening to his heartbeat.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Downplayed. The Girl isn't a good person, but she definitely favors Asshole Victims as prey and is polite and kind to people who aren't her food.
  • Larynx Dissonance: While intimidating the Urchin, the Girl's voice becomes inhumanly gravelly and demonic.
  • Loan Shark: Saeed sells Hossein drugs on credit and seizes Arash's car to pay for the interest.
  • Male Gaze: Despite how she appears modestly-covered in a chador for most of the movie, we do get to see Sheila Vand's bare chest during her bathing scene. Much later, near the end of the movie, she also provides us with a combined variant of Shoulders-Up Nudity and Toplessness from the Back.
  • Mirror Routine: The Girl taunts Hossein by doing this to him while stalking him in the street.
  • Mushroom Samba: Arash is shown disoriented after being given ecstasy at a club.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot:
    • It was marketed as "the first Iranian vampire western".
    • The Girl is a skateboarding Iranian vampire.
  • No Name Given: Neither the Girl nor the Urchin are ever named.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: She wears a chador and rides a skateboard.
  • Outlaw Couple: The Girl and Arash leave town to do this in the end, even though he knows that she killed his father.
  • Pet the Dog: The Girl talking to Atti about her disillusionment in Bad City. It also seems she tried to give Atti jewels to help fund her escape.
  • Plastic Bitch: Shaydah, the snobbish and unpleasant daughter of Arash's employers, has a bandage over her nose implying that she's just had work done to it.
  • Rich Bitch: Shaydah, whose family employ Arash as a gardener/handyman, who is implied to have just had a nose job at the start of the film, gets high at fancy costume parties and patronisingly flirts with Arash.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: The Girl employs this with the Urchin. After repeatedly asking him “Are you a good boy?” (to which he answers yes, with increasing lack of conviction), she reveals her vampire form to him and threatens to pluck his eyeballs from his skull and feed them to the dogs before telling him to “Be a good boy” and saying she’ll be watching him for the rest of his life.
  • The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: As soon as the Girl lets Saeed pick her up and take her home, you know where things are going. Subverted when she finds Arash high and confused in the street, takes him back to her flat, and doesn't harm him.
  • Streetwalker: Atti has fallen into this line of work.
  • Tattooed Crook: Saeed, the pimp, moneylender, and drug dealer, is covered with tattoos in both Roman and Arabic script. A Freeze-Frame Bonus reveals he also has a tattoo of Pac-Man heading for a mug of beer.
  • Threw My Bike on the Roof: The Girl bullies the Urchin so that she can take his skateboard.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Saeed, who still thinks it'd be smart to seduce The Girl despite the fact she just sprouted fangs. It takes him losing a finger to realize this.
  • Truth in Television: Even without a vampire’s super strength, biting off someone’s finger is about as easy as biting into a baby carrot. (The reason you can’t bite off your own fingers is because your brain limits your strength so you can’t hurt yourself.)
  • Vampire Bites Suck: The Girl's feeding is brutal, animalistic, and lethal.
  • Would Hurt a Child: She doesn't kill the boy but she does threaten him and steal his skateboard so he'll be traumatized for life.
  • Wretched Hive: "Bad City" is an oil town with, seemingly, no police of any kind, rampant crime, and a ravine that is always full of freshly-dumped bodies.
  • You're Not My Father: Arash finally loses patience with Hossein's drug addiction and self-pity and disowns him. And ends up leaving town with the Girl, despite knowing that she killed him.