On the seedy streets of Bad City (presumably twinned with Sin City), a predatory young woman (Sheila Vand) meets a handsome drug dealer (Arash Marandi). Let’s call it Under the Skin City.
Under the veil of “the first Iranian vampire Western”, this is really an American arthouse piece; filmed in California, spoken in Persian and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour.
Amirpour wears her influences on her cloak sleeves, but once you’re bored of playing spot-the-reference (Lynch, Leone, Jarmusch…), there’s little to get your teeth into.
The style is on point, with beautiful monochrome photography, characters resembling Persian versions of Winona Ryder, James Dean and Die Antwoord’s Ninja, and one hell of a soundtrack. But like so much indie cinema, the artsy design hides a flimsy narrative.
With no real plot, extensive homage and hints at political themes that peter out over 100 minutes, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is basically a long pop video, albeit quite a good one.
Hipsters and teenagers might find solace in the misfit title character, but for those of us who want a bit more bite to our vampires, it looks rather like a hodgepodge of old doodads.