A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was featured as part of the 2014 Sundance Film’s Festival’s NEXT slate, a category which claims to celebrate “an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling”. Then why did the movie’s story seem so poorly told? Writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour’s starkly photographed vampire tale crosses the line between languorous and plodding, building up rich veins of mood that are wasted with pretentious pacing that kills any consistency of tone. I realize A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is an entry in a category of experimental films, but even experimental films are required to keep the audience engaged in some way or another.
The titular character in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is ‘The Girl’ (Sheila Vand), a lonely vampire who wanders the streets of Bad City, an semi-abandoned town in Iran. When she meets Arash (Arash Marandi), the frustrated son of a heroin addict, the two form an unlikely friendship that soon blossoms into romance. It’s like Let Me In…if Let Me In was cranked down to 33 RPM and everybody spoke Farsi.
Perhaps most disappointing is A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night‘s maddeningly unexploited potential. Shot in a evocative black and white, it looks and feels like a vampire movie. A good one. Vand is excellent as ‘The Girl’, putting out a vibe equal parts seductive innocence and knowing menace. With a few more plot points and tighter pacing, Amirpour’s creative endeavor might have earned a rightful place alongside bleak vampire think-pieces like Martin or Midnight Son. But as it stands, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night represents little more than stagnant storytelling.