Bad City is a dour landscape of dull architecture and oil derricks, sucking the land dry. The latter might be an intended metaphor for 2014's A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, which features a mysterious girl who indeed spends her time walking home alone at night, intriguing and startling the young and old as she virtually hovers over sidewalks in a black chador. Who is she? What is she doing? The city is meant to be somewhere in Iran, but if you've ever been to inland towns in California, it should look rather familiar.
"The Girl" (Sheila Vand) retreats nightly to a one room apartment, spinning pop songs on vinyl. She loves music. It may be more alive to her than anyone she meets in Bad City. I can sometimes relate to that idea. We learn early on that the girl is a vampire, albeit with a conscience. She kills three people in this movie. One, a vicious pimp/drug dealer, clearly deserves it. But what about another man, an elderly heroin addict? He does force a prostitute to share a needle with him. Then there's an anonymous street person, slumped over in an alley. Maybe he was evil in some way, too.
Is the girl some sort of angel? She spares a young child, after scaring the shinola out of him. "Be a good boy," she warns. Her chador suggests she has been the victim of many not so good boys, perhaps an entire society of them. She takes the kid's skateboard after he tears off in fright. Seeing the girl riding it under streetlamps is one of the many oddly beautiful images in writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour's moody art piece. Lyle Vincent's black and white photography is absolutely stunning. It makes a literally colorless locale come to near phantamasgoric life, even if the film evokes more indie cool ala Jim Jarmusch than sheer terror or dread. Calling A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT a horror film does seem a bit of a stretch, aside from a few moments.
The girl also meets a fairly decent youth named Arash (Arash Marandi) and after deciding not to sink her fangs into his neck, finds he seems like someone she can connect with. She even lets him pierce her ears. How their relationship plays out will be one viewer's tedium and another's mellow poetry. Amirpour places visual lyricism in every shot. It may distract you from what seems like a thin script, or perhaps expand on it.
Amirpour is as mysterious as her main character. In an interview with Roger Corman, who comments on the Jarmusch vibe, the director shrugs and admits she's not a big fan of his work (aside from ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, of course) - "I like Robert Zemeckis."