Friday, January 29, 2016

Walkin' after midnight, searching for you

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is an unusual horror movie in a few ways.

For one, it apparently aspires to look like Prince's Under the Cherry Moon. Well, that might not actually be the model. But it does evoke the era circa 1986-89 when rock videos classed up by going monochrome. Its black and white is much more reminiscent of old MTV than old(er) movies. My speculation on the reasons for that in a minute.

It does not really have a lot of jump scares. The direct cause of this absence is that the vampire is also the protagonist. You could call her the hero, even. With one apparent exception her attacks are on behalf of wronged women.

Still, while there's not a lot of shock horror, the film maintains a very eerie atmosphere in its unusual urban setting.

The third quality that sets it apart is that the dialogue is in Persian. This despite the fact that it was shot entirely in California, and Elijah Wood is one of the producers. Its setting of Bad City is both an American and an Iranian one, really taking place in a world of symbolism.

Due to its content, this is not a film that could have been shot in Iran in its current political state. But I feel it was made for Iran. This is a movie made to be secretly traded as a bootleg in places it's not supposed to be. That's the reason for the rock video aesthetics. It's part of the tradition.

I like that, because while America's successful movies are exported all over the world, we don't often take the trouble to talk to other peoples on their own terms.


susan said...

A while back when you reviewed a film called 'It Follows' I said I didn't enjoy watching a lot of modern horror movies because of gore - the scary parts for me are the 'jump' moments that I guess a lot of people like. Hey, a lot of people like rollercoasters and bungee jumping too.

Nevertheless, I do watch some new ones (classic Hammer films and anything with Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Vincent Price et al aren't in the running here), mostly, as you so rightly guessed, with some encouragement. An integral part of the genre is to have those shock moments, the ones where I often have my eyes ready to close at a second's notice. What it comes down to for me is that while I can take vampires and most ghost stories because I'm relatively sure they either don't exist at all or only exist as local phenomena (I can't remember who it was who said, 'All ghosts mean to me is unfinished business.') what I'm absolutely certain of is that human violence exists.

Maybe it was 'Psycho' (which I liked even though it shocked the heck out of me) as precursor, but at some point there was a marked change in movies where crazy people were suddenly all the rage (**). Slashers had taken over.

So, 'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night' sounds like a movie that I wouldn't need much cajoling to watch. The trailer shows just the kind of modern noirish landscape you described. I also like the idea that it's a film meant to be shared in a somewhat underground fashion. Good find.

Ben said...

Is anyone into bungee jumping off of roller coasters? That would be something to tell people about. :)

These things go in cycles, I think.The seventies brought new levels of violence (and a fair amount of sex) to horror movies because there were no more legal obstacles and because they knew a big part of the audience would go for it. A few years after that came the well-known slasher characters like Michael and Jason. But that whole thing eventually ran its course and there was more of a trend toward genre mixing and comedy. Violent horror has made something of a comeback over the last 15 years, though.

Human violence can be an interesting subject if it's handled in a creative way. It can be a lazy fallback at other times.

This movie is pretty spacey, though. I think you might enjoy it.