Updated: Mar 12, 2020
"In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire." (imdb.com)
Review by: Kelly
Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, this refreshing and stylistic tale on vampirism is one people have been talking about. I happen to recently obtain a beautiful edition of the movie with a wonderfully bold black and white graphic novel within it. The whole aesthetic of the packaging is something I am really drawn to; the stark contrast of the red on black and white. It definitely sets the tone for the type of film I was about to watch.
We are introduced to The Girl, a 187-year-old vampire living in the desolate town of Bad City. She is strong, powerful and scary. She also happens to love Iranian new wave and rock music. The movie's music definitely stood out with its mix of western, synth, rock and techno. You would think that perhaps the western music would be out of place but it oddly compliments the scenes with Arash, the main male character of the movie. I love it when the music can balance a film so perfectly.
Vampirism often coincides with strong feelings of loneliness and you can tell that between the two main characters (The Girl and Arash). As he is struggling with his drug addicted father, The Girl struggles with her immortality (I strongly recommend reading the comics as a prequel to the movie. It sheds more light (dark?) onto the character). With Arash, she finds a feeling of companionship and perhaps someone to shed some light onto her dark world. Their vulnerability is palpable, it's no wonder they are drawn to each other.
There aren't many characters that you meet in this movie. Outside of Arash, the men you do meet are incredibly down trodden and flawed (that drug dealer was beyond disgusting) and the only women we meet are clearly struggling. My favorite moment in the film is when The Girl meets Atti, the local prostitute, for the first time. You can tell how much The Girl relates to Atti's night time lifestyle; the loneliness, the isolation and desire for companionship. It was deeply moving.
I read an article recently that detailed displeasure over how the film ended which had me worry about what I was going to experience on my own viewing. The author stated that they felt that The Girl "uprooted" her life to become "trapped" with Arash. Would it have been more progressive or less obvious if The Girl would have fallen for Atti instead? Sure. That would have made the story have a little more depth and intrigue. Was the "love" between The Girl and Arash barely developed? Definitely. However, I disagree with the author as we can see The Girl isn't fully content in her life in Bad City and she easily grabs a bag, stolen jewelry for money and the cat because why the hell not? She is not at all trapped by Arash but perhaps feels a sense of excitement with moving on whereas with Atti, she was not emotionally ready to leave. It was a clear decision made on The Girls' part with minimal enticing by him.
Folks, I have to bring up the cat factor. Whose fat ass cat did he steal from the backyard?? Also, in the ending scene I couldn't help but giggle at that cat, perched in the car with big excited eyes ready for the adventure ahead. He, or she, almost stole the show. Almost.
I would highly recommend this movie to fans of horror, vampires, and stylized film making. Was I blown away by it? No. Did I love it? Aspects of it. What I do know is that I was definitely charmed by the Iranian vampire, riding around on a skateboard in a chador and I think you will too.