A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is not your typical horror movie. It is not your typical movie in any sense, to be completely honest, but regardless — it is a great one.
Directed and written by Ana Lily Amirpour as her first feautre-lenght film, the 2014 made A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (Dokhtari dar šab tanhâ be xâne miravad in its original language, Persian) can be described as a thrilling romance as much as it can be described as an arthouse horror flick. A movie comprised of extremely familiar beats matched up in a completely alienating form, it is shot entirely in black and white, has few lines — that are all spoken in Farsi — in it, and is powered by the performances of a practically unknown cast. As an “Iranian vampire Western”, it is first of its kind, and thus exist on an uncharted territory of filmmaking that makes it extremely hard to be defined or placed within borders. It is also metatextual take upon voyeurism and surveillance thanks to its use of a single cat, but that is an absolutely different perspective of criticism that belongs to an absolutely different piece.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is also a movie that creates space for important conversations on issues such as conservatism, patriarchy, female rage, sexuality and cultural isolation.
* This piece contains spoilers on the endings of Del Toro’s 2006 work Pan’s Labyrinth, 2015 work Crimson Peak and 2017 work Shape of Water.
My relationship with literature long before I knew how to read, with my mother taking at least half an hour of her night before my bedtime to read me stories. There was never a single night lacking the sound of turning pages and her raspy yet sweet voice; no matter how tired or sad she was, my mother would knock on my door exacly at nine thirthy, and we would spend our little quality time together until I fell asleep in her arms. And if there’s one reason that I became an avid reader, a maybe-future writer, a literature student: it is because of her, and her efforts.
This, of course, also meant that as I grew older and older, our libraries merged into one, too. Of course, there wwere my populist fantasy series — looking at you Harry Potter and Twilight —, which I would read even on my way to home from school while walking, and there were her thick, old looking books from Turkish novelists. Somewhere in the middle, just after I became a highschool student and started one of the hardest periods of my teenage years, I started picking up books from her side of the shelves. Then came Paul Coelho and Isabel Allende, Camus and Christie, Le Guin and Kafka, but most important of them all, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He was the favorite writer of my mother, and he quickly became mine too. His writing style, even when translated, had the power to carry me from my reality to another one; one that still seemed so close yet so far away, a purgatory between reality and dream. As I learned later later, this was called magical realism, a very popular type of fiction from Latin American literature that was known for its merging of fantasy elements with otherwise “normal” settings.