Vice Films bills this incredible movie as :
The first Iranian Vampire Western ever made, Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut basks in the sheer pleasure of pulp. A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype, and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave.
I’d describe this film as a visual feast, captured in black and white, languid and sensual in the same way a cat rubs against your legs. Note that there is no mention of it being a mystery–but this film is deeply mysterious. While this film has everything to do with Bad City, and the bad things that happen there–namely drugs and prostitution–the heart of this film–the darkly beating, blood pumping heart of this film has everything to do with being young, making sense of the world, and the intoxicating power of music to provide a road map towards the possibilities of escaping the known. It also takes on one of the biggest mysteries of all–who we fall in love with despite the deep crevices of their flaws, and all that is unknown and swims in another person’s hidden currents. It also touches on how often our emotions render us totally inarticulate and how music is this incredible bridge that is built in the air between two people. This film is centered on the mystery of containing multitudes, and the urge to confess to someone who might accept and love you any way, “I’m bad. I’ve done bad things.” And yet, even a vampire, and even a young man who boots his own father out on the street with enough heroin to overdose on, are deserving of love.
There’s so much to be said for this film, and so much going on, but honestly I need to watch it again and I am hesitant to apply a critical lens because a) it’s summer, and b) this was such a pleasurable viewing experience, even when the shots delivered material that was difficult to take in and look at. I want to bask in the joy of it. Pleasure is important, people.
The vampire/girl learns how to ride the skateboard of a child she has terrified into being “a good boy”, and she floats down the street on it. She dances alone in her basement apartment, rims her eyes with kohl and her lips with dark lipstick before taking to the street. Her prey are always men, and either homeless and dying, or predators. She speaks rarely and yet her eyes and her face eloquently communicate. The acting is phenomenal, the setting rich and evocative.
This film isn’t for everyone, but if you want something startlingly gorgeous and deeply resonate hours after its resolution, watch this film tonight. It’s streaming on Netflix, but who knows for how long. Check out the graphic novel the film stems from too, and dig the soundtrack if you’re looking for new summer tunes.