Viewed – 15 August 2015 Online rental
The vampire myth has been explored in a myriad of ways throughout cinema’s history, from Max Shrek’s Nosferatu and Christopher Lee’s Dracula to The Lost Boys and Twilight. So we come to this critically acclaimed Iranian offering.
Shot in noir-ish black & white, this follows day to day goings on in Bad City where a young James Dean-like guy (Arash Marandi) lives with his drug-addicted father who owes a hefty debt to the local drug dealer. At the same time a young woman (Sheela Vand) prowls the streets at night in search of her next feeding … because she happens to be a vampire. These two lonely people seem destined to cross paths in what soon turns into a rather unconventional love story.
This has had a lot of good word of mouth, and on a purely aesthetic level impresses. The black & white photography is lush, very artistic and atmospheric, whilst the soundtrack mixes jazz, opera and contemporary music effectively to convey emotion in a movie that only uses dialogue sparingly. This is very moody stuff and the vampire girl is instantly iconic with her cloaked persona reminding me of Kaonashi (no face) in Spirited Away. Yet these characters are not really explored. We learn next to nothing about any of them and therefore its hard to care all that much. Creative photography, lighting and mood can make up for a lot, and this does so in spades, but a lack of depth to anything going on meant I came away knowing as much as I did going in. There are some stand out moments, including the vampire girl’s first kill and a decidedly effective ear-piercing scene, but overall this was largely (wonderful) style over substance.
I’d say there is a lot of potential here from debut director Ana Lily Amirpour who certainly knows how to frame a shot and create an effective mood, so I’ll keep my eye out for whatever she does next.
Verdict: 3 /5