Happy Halloween everybody! We’ve made it through another 31 days of scary (and scary bad) stuff…and to finish things off, here’s a much-buzzed movie about a skateboarding vampire. No, really.
“Are you a good boy?”
Story: Douchebag drug dealer pimp behaves badly. A young man’s father has a drug habit that’s draining their finances. A woman is sick of prostituting herself and longs for something better. Meanwhile, a young girl walks alone in the dark…but she’s not human. Spoiler alert!
Scares: Few. This is a noir-ish mood piece rather than a straight-up scarefest.
Splat factor: Almost non-existent. Okay, somebody gets his finger bitten off. But otherwise nada. Plus, the movie is filmed in black-n-white, so even when there is a bit of the red stuff, it’s muted.
Closing scene “shocker”?: Nope.
Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Save for the vampire lore, completely original.
Trick or Treat?: “Moody and atmospheric” are descriptives tossed around too easily nowadays. But they’re definitely true here. Ana Lily Amirpour’s film is an intriguing look at how vampire mythology blends into worlds beyond Twilight and True Blood. Yes, this film takes its time getting from plot point to plot point, and there are times when the story seems to stop and reset. But with this look into the lives of people struggling to get by day-to-day, and how a vampire comes into their worlds, it’s the focus on the characters that drives this narrative, not the dialogue.
A Girl feels like arthouse cinema met John Hughes, and they hung out and watched Let the Right One In. The Winona Ryder-ish “Girl” (the vamp is never named) has a chador that flows like a cape, pretty mean skateboard skills, and fangs that *snik* out like the vamps on True Blood. Girl is a fascinating character; a vampire who feeds on bad guys, but also attacks random homeless men when she’s in need of a fix. She meets Arash, a young man caught between a drug dealer and his heroin junkie of a father. Girl is lonesome, Arash is longing for someone to talk to…and it’s a love story in the time of vampirism. Plus, there’s a really adorable cat.*
The music helps set the tone of each scene, from the almost Sergio Leone spaghetti western vibe in the orchestral score, to a mix of cool Iranian and English pop that drives Girl and Arash’s interactions. Production designer Sergio De La Vega brings a gritty realism to “Iran” (which was actually Southern California in this pic), and Amirpour’s screenplay lets the visuals take center stage, allowing the characters emotions to take the lead. If this is how Amirpour starts off her career, I’m looking forward to seeing her next film. That’ll be The Bad Batch, a film about post-apocalyptic cannibals, starring Keanu Reeves, Jason Momoa, Jim Carrey. Yep, I cannot wait.
Note to those folks who hate subtitles and artsy films: A Girl is filmed entirely in Farsi, and in black-and-white. Another note for those folks: get over yourself, because this movie is worth your struggle. Everybody else? Settle in, set your brain to Absorb, let the strange beauty of this film wash over you, and enjoy.
Score: 4 out of 5 pumpkins.
* To animal lovers like me, don’t worry; the kitty lives through this flick.