Horror, at its best, exposes something about our culture. It needles its way into taboos, makes us see things we didn’t know were there. As political commentary, it’s hard to beat a good horror movie. And it’s hard to find a good horror movie without some political commentary.
I think that’s one reason—among many—that A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is so powerful, particularly for American audiences. Girl has universal appeal, but as the rare mainstream Iranian horror movie (only mainstream Iranian horror movie?) it also presents aspects of Persian culture most of do not recognize.
Set in the Iranian oil town of Bad City, Girl follows Arash, a hard working young man trying to take care of his junkie father in a world that offers him little hope for the future. But when he meets the eponymous girl, everything changes.
A few things that stand out about Girl immediately. The first is the cinematography. This is a beautiful movie. Gorgeously shot, Girl’s visuals create an atmosphere that is at once surreal and otherworldly while also engaging and engrossing. Girl also presents a view into Iran we in the West don’t often see. Iran and the Iranian people are not all that different from us. The have many of the same problems we have, and they are obsessed with American culture. This is partially demonstrated by the music in the film. This would be a soundtrack to own.
I also enjoyed the commentary on Islamic dress, principally the chador. Obviously, there’s been endless debate about this garment, and its role in oppressing women. But when the girl puts on the chador, which conveniently doubles as a cape, she becomes dangerous rather than delicate.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a movie to see. Sheila Vand is beautiful in the title role, while Arash Marandi shows some serious chops. If you’re looking for an Iranian horror movie to watch this Halloween season, Girl is the movie for you.