Equal parts brilliant and exasperating, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Midnight borrows liberally from lots of clichés and tropes in vampire and indie cinema, and puts them into a new context. Ultimately, though, it fails to develop them any further, and ultimately feels like a short film overstretched to feature length.
The emphasis is more on mood than plot, but what story there is revolves around a fictional Iranian town, where a female vampire is stalking the residents – the difference here is that the vampire wears a chador (a traditional Iranian cloak) and rides on a skateboard.
Director Ana Lily Amirpour has a great eye for visuals and the film looks and sound great, steeped in creepy and off beat atmosphre. It owes much to the eccentric and indie side of 80s American cinema, directors such as Lynch, and Jarmusch especially, and stylish vampire films like The Hunger. It is shot in black and white and looks, everybody smokes, characters meet at a run down power plant and the vampire lives in a bedsit festooned with posters, listening to vinyl.
However, the style overwhelms the substance too often and for too long and too many scenes drag on with people staring at themselves or each other while whole songs play, and it begins to feels at times like a music video or commercial.
The vampire is interesting, as she is not presented in the clichéd overtly sexual way. There is sexual imagery and a metaphorical castration involving a finger – but perhaps ultimately she represents something heterosexual men find threatening – a woman who is indifferent to and uninterested in them.