“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
Ohh, this movie. Easily one of my favorites in a long, long time.
“The Girl”, as she is solely named (played by Sheila Vand), spends her time wandering the streets alone, listening to music in her tiny apartment, and, sometimes, killing people with her sharp fangs. She comes into contact with Arash (played by Arash Marandi), an independent and hard-working young man who has a desperately drug-addicted father at home, and they strike up this quiet intimacy that is mesmerizing to behold, though it becomes very complicated when she finds herself entangled with his father in a very different way.
Honestly, that is a bulk of the plot. The complexity of this movie lies deep below the surface, and it is striking in so many ways. Despite being shot in Taft, California, the Farsi-speaking cast and fictional idea of this Iranian “Bad City” makes you feel as though you’re a million miles away. As far as a genre goes, it is the quirky vampire-western I never knew I needed in my life. It weaves together this incredible combination of horror, loneliness, eroticism, desperation, isolation, humor, romance, and feminism and on top of that it is both gorgeously shot and scored. There’s some laugh out loud moments — like when Arash is still under the influence of ecstasy in his Dracula costume and mesmerized by a lamppost as he is sized up by a living, breathing vampire — and one of the most truly scary moments I’ve seen in a movie (when The Girl urges a curious child to “be a good boy”).
Ultimately, while technically a horror film, this movie doesn’t rely on hardly any tired cliches or overdone effects — the word “vampire” is never even used. It is masterfully filmed, written, and composed, with scenes so good they could be poetry, especially considering this is Amirpour’s directorial debut AND it was shot in just over 3 weeks’ time. Images of The Girl coasting down the street on a skateboard with her chador flowing in her wake will be imprinted on my brain forever, and I’m pretty psyched about that.