Ana Amirpour

7.6 A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
6.8 The Bad Batch (2016)

Ana Amirpour (1980), raised in California by Iranian immigrants, debuted with Dokhtari dar sab Tanha be Xane Miravad/ A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014), a metaphysical thriller which is only superficially a vampire movie. In fact, it pays homage to German expressionism of the 1920s (filmed in black and white with emphasis on shadows and chiaroscuros) while set in a modern industrial wasteland, and incorporates elements of French film noir of the Renoir generation as well as of 1950s cinema about juvenile delinquents as well as of Italian neorealism as well as of Hitchcock. Visually arresting despite being in black and white, each scene seems to mean a lot more than what it shows even when it shows just a humble room. There are infinite ways to read the metaphor. The vampire is obviously an angel of punishment, as it kills only people who take advantage of others, and at the same time it seems to reflect the protagonist's conscience by removing one by one the obstacles to his happiness without directly implicating him in a murder. His Faustian deal is to pretend not to know how his freedom has been achieved and to start a new life with the demon who made it possible. A young man, Arash, steals a cat from a backyard. He drives home in a landscape of oil wells. His old father Hossein injects heroin in his arm while watching television. Another young man, Saeed, comes to visit them: he is the drug dealer and Hossein owes him money. Saeed takes the keys of Arash's car to pay off the debt. Angry about his situation, Arash punches a wall and injures his hand. Arash works as a gardener for a rich family. He overhears the daughter, Shaydah, talking on the phone about a costume party. He asks her if it's ok that he works in the house while she's alone with him, and she is amused by his gentlemanship. He steals her diamond earrings. At night Saeed picks up a prostitute, Atti. While she is performing oral sex on him, he notices a woman dressed in black staring at their car. Distracted, he throws Atti out without paying her. The woman in black walks into a house and reveals her young face. She dances by herself to the music and puts makeup on her face. Then she walks in the street again, and again dressed in black, just where Saeed is also walking. Saeed is attracted and invites her to his apartment. He sniffs cocaine, then caresses her face. She opens her mouth and shows two fangs: then sucks his finger but cuts it out. Then goes for his neck, killing him. On the way out, she steals his watch and other valuables. Just then Arash arrives at the gate planning to buy back the car with the earrings and rings the bell. She walks out and he sees her face. She leaves the gate open and he walks into the house and finds the drug dealer's dead body. He takes back his own car keys as well as a suitcase full of drugs, a gun and cash. Meanwhile, the vampire takes a bath at home silently. He drives through the landscape of oil wells. He pays cash to have his injured hand cured at the hospital. Night again. The old Hossein follows the prostitute. She wants money that he doesn't have so she leaves him. He sees the woman in black who starts walking next to him. Hossein gets scared and runs away. She follows a child. He too runs away but she reappears in front of him as if flying at the speed of light. She shows him her fangs. She warns him she'll be watching if he behaves properly. She skates around the deserted streets of the town. Arash uses the money to buy food for his father. His father, however, only wants drugs. Arash shows up at the costume party in a night club dressed like Drcaula. He meets Shaydah and her friend Shirin. Shaydah thinks that he now works there as the bartender. Shaydah insists that he tries the drug ecstasy. He quickly loses control and begins to behave like a zombie. He walks outside alone and stops transfixed by a lamplight. The vampire on skateboard sees him and stops. He introduces himself as Dracula. She invites him to her house, but, still under the influence, he can hardly stand up, and she has to drag him there using the skateboard as a wheelbarrow. She plays music and he approaches her to kiss her. She could easily bite him but instead rests her head on his chest. In the morning a woman is dancing with a balloon on the roof of a building. Arash, talking to his father about the girl, realizes that he doesn't even know her name. Night again: the prostitute scratches Arash's car thinking that it's Saeed's car. The vampire woman sees her and follows her to her home. The vampire shows Atti the watch that she stole from Saeed and Atti recognizes it. The prostitute interrogates the mysterious girl but the girl doesn't speak. The girl is compassionate about the prostitute who is sad and is saving money. The girl sees inside her and pities her. She walks out without harming the prostitute but then kills a homeless man who is asleep on the sidewalk. At home she finds a message from Arash to meet him at the power plant. She is in a sad mood and he tries to cheer her up by piercing her ears and gifting her the diamond earrings. He tries to kiss her and she seems ready to confess to him that she is a vampire but a train interrupts their conversation and she leaves. He walks back home. Hossein has hallucinations and believes that Arash's cat is his dead wife. Hossein destroys all the photos of her. This time Arash loses his patience, throws him some money and some drugs and kicks him out of the house with the cat. Now that he has the money to pay for sex, Hossein goes to Atti's place. He asks her to dance with him like in the old days (were they lovers?) and forces her to take heroin with him. The vampire walks in, finds them "stoned" in bed, throws the man to the floor and viciously kills him. The two women dispose of Hossein's body in the street. The boy sees them from a window. Atti gives the cat to the vampire. The sun rises on the machines of the oil field. The child brings Arash to Hossein's body. Arash walks back home, packs his things and the money, and drives to the vampire's home. He asks her to run away with him. She wears her black chador and hugs the cat, which he recognizes but doesn't say anything. He start driving in the dark. Suddenly, he stops without saying a word. He gets off the car. She remains seated with the cat on her lap (the cat proves that she was involved in the death of his father). After a few minutes, he gets back in the car and turns on the music. They stare at each other, and he starts driving again.

The Bad Batch (2016) is a (poorly acted) horror set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic society.

Arlen, a young woman, is given a number and dropped in a desert beyond a fence. She walks alone in the desert until she finds a car. A vehicle approaches and she runs away. They capture her and she finds herself strapped to the floor. A woman saws off her arm and her leg. Meanwhile, body builders are exercising at what looks like a beach. An old woman drags Arlen on the sand to wash her wound. Arlen grabs a steel bar and kills the old woman. She then craws on her back out of the place. A mute pushing a shopping cart picks her up and delivers her to Comfort, a commune of people like her, expelled from society, running away from the cannibals. Five months later she has an artificial leg and can limp around. Meanwhile, a big man who has "Miami Man" tatooed on his chest is painting a little girl. Then he stops and walks towards a captive woman who begs him to let her go. He calmly knocks her out and then cooks her. Arlen arms herself with a pistol and walks out of Comfort. She finds Miami Man's wife and the little girl who are scavenging in a garbage dump: the woman has injured herself and can't run away. Arlen kills her in front of the child. Arlen then leads the kid to Comfort. The mute watches the scene in his binoculars. Miami Man finds the dead woman and nearby finds the mute who is also scavenging in the same dump. Miami Man shows him his painting of the kid and asks him whether he saw her. The mute demands that Miami Man first paints a picture of him. Then he writes that the kid is in Comfort. Meanwhile in Comfort a dj called Jimmy is playing electronic dance music, part of a "dream" organized by a sort of guru who tells them that they are the "bad batch", the ones rejected by society and expelled in the desert. Arlen joins the crowd that is taking drugs. While she is on drugs, the guru and his pregnant girlfriend invite the kid into their compound. Arlen wanders outside Comfort and is found by Miami Man who threatens to kill her if she doesn't find the kid. A motorcycle approaches: the biker offers Miami Man to trade the girl for gasoline (presumably he wants to eat Arlen, not have sex with her). Miami Man pretends to accept but then kills the man and steals his motorcycle. Miami Man also cuts his arm to eat it later. During a sand storm Miami Man and Arlen seem to become physically attracted. Then he cooks the arm while she watches. She asks him why he got sent to the desert and he tells her that he was an illegal immigrant from Cuba. She grabs his knife but can't find the moral strength to kill him. Someone else shoots him from behind. This other man rescues her and takes her back to Comfort. Later the mute finds Miami Man lying unconscious but not dead. Arlen looks for the kid but nobody has seen her. Eventually she finds out that the kid is kept in the compound by the guru. The compound is a harem of pregnant women. She enters it and the guru kindly explains that the economy of the commune runs on drugs. Arlen tells him that she wants to join the harem and be made pregnant like the others, but then, alone with his favorite, pulls out a pistol and takes her hostage. Arlen demands the release of the kid and then leaves Comfort. Outside they are met by Miami Man, who seems to be already healed of the gun wound. The kid is happy to see him. Miami Man is ready to leave with the kid. Arlen, who now has no place to go, wants to join them but he doesn't want her. Miami Man takes the rabbit that the kid has been keeping all the time, kills it and cooks it. Arlen eats it with them, implying that she has become part of the family (and maybe she'll soon become a cannibal herself).
(Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Gabriele Di Siena)

Ana Amirpour ha debuttato con Dokhtari dar sab Tanha be Xane Miravad/ A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014), un thriller metafisico che è solo superficialmente un film sui vampiri. In realtà, rende omaggio all'espressionismo tedesco degli anni '20 (filmato in bianco e nero con enfasi su ombre e chiaroscuri) mentre è ambientato in una moderna e desolata terra industriale, e incorpora elementi del noir francese della generazione Renoir, del cinema anni '50 sui delinquenti minorenni, del neorealismo italiano e di Hitchcock. Visivamente impressionante nonostante sia in bianco e nero, ogni scena sembra significare molto di più di ciò che mostra anche quando si tratta solo di un’umile stanza. Ci sono infiniti modi per leggere la metafora. Il vampiro è ovviamente un angelo punitivo, in quanto uccide solo le persone che traggono vantaggio dagli altri, e allo stesso tempo sembra riflettere la coscienza del protagonista rimuovendo uno ad uno gli ostacoli alla sua felicità senza coinvolgerlo direttamente in un omicidio. Il suo accordo faustiano è di fingere di non sapere come è stata raggiunta la sua libertà e di iniziare una nuova vita con il demone che l'ha resa possibile.

Un giovane, Arash, ruba un gatto da un cortile. Torna a casa in un paesaggio di pozzi di petrolio. Il suo vecchio padre Hossein si inietta eroina nel braccio mentre guarda la televisione. Un altro giovane, Saeed, viene a trovarli: è uno spacciatore e Hossein gli deve dei soldi. Saeed prende le chiavi della macchina di Arash per ripagare il debito. Arrabbiato per la sua situazione, Arash colpisce un muro e si fa male alla mano. Arash lavora come giardiniere per una famiglia ricca. Sente la figlia Shaydah che parla al telefono di una festa in costume. Le chiede se è ok che lavori in casa mentre è sola con lui, e lei è divertita dalla sua gentilezza. Le ruba orecchini di diamanti. Di notte Saeed va con una prostituta, Atti. Mentre stanno facendo sesso orale, lui nota una donna vestita di nero che fissa la loro auto. Distratto, butta fuori Atti senza pagarla. La donna in nero entra in una casa e mostra il suo giovane viso. Balla da sola a ritmo di musica e si trucca il viso. Quindi cammina di nuovo in strada, di nuovo vestita di nero, proprio dove sta camminando Saeed. Lui è attratto e la invita nel suo appartamento. Sniffa la cocaina, poi le accarezza il viso. Lei apre la bocca e mostra due zanne: poi gli succhia il dito ma lo taglia. Poi punta al collo, uccidendolo. All'uscita, ruba l'orologio e altri oggetti di valore. Proprio allora Arash arriva al cancello intenzionato a riprendersi la macchina con gli orecchini e suona il campanello. Lei esce e lui la vede in faccia. Lei lascia il cancello aperto e lui entra in casa e trova il cadavere del trafficante di droga. Si riprende le chiavi della macchina ed anche una valigia piena di droga, una pistola e del denaro. Nel frattempo, la vampira si fa un bagno a casa in silenzio. Lui attraversa il paesaggio di pozzi di petrolio. Paga in contanti in ospedale per farsi curare la mano ferita. Di nuovo notte. Il vecchio Hossein segue la prostituta. Lei vuole soldi che lui non ha, per cui se ne va. Vede la donna in nero che inizia a camminare accanto a lui. Hossein si spaventa e scappa. Lei segue un bambino. Anche lui scappa ma lei gli riappare di fronte come se volasse alla velocità della luce. Gli mostra le sue zanne. Lo avverte che starà a guardare se si comporta bene. Pattina per le strade deserte della città. Arash usa i soldi per comprare cibo per suo padre. Lui, tuttavia, vuole solo droghe. Arash si presenta alla festa in costume in un night club vestito come Dracula. Incontra Shaydah e la sua amica Shirin. Shaydah pensa che ora lavori lì come barista. Insiste affinché provi l'estasi della droga. Lui perde rapidamente il controllo e inizia a comportarsi come uno zombi. Cammina fuori da solo e si ferma folgorato da un lampione. La vampira su skateboard lo vede e si ferma. Lui si presenta come Dracula. Lei lo invita a casa sua, ma lui, ancora sotto l'influenza di stupefacenti, riesce a malapena a rialzarsi e lei deve trascinarlo lì usando lo skateboard come una carriola. Lei mette della musica e lui le si avvicina per baciarla. Poteva morderlo facilmente ma invece appoggia la testa sul suo petto. Al mattino una donna balla con un palloncino sul tetto di un edificio. Arash, parlando con suo padre della ragazza, si rende conto che non conosce nemmeno il suo nome. Di nuovo la notte: la prostituta graffia la macchina di Arash pensando che sia la macchina di Saeed. La vampira la vede e la segue a casa sua. Mostra ad Atti l'orologio che ha rubato a Saeed e lei lo riconosce. La prostituta interroga la misteriosa ragazza ma lei non parla. La ragazza è compassionevole nei confronti della prostituta, che è triste e sta risparmiando denaro. La ragazza vede dentro di lei e la compatisce. Esce senza far del male alla prostituta ma poi uccide un senzatetto che dorme sul marciapiede. A casa trova un messaggio di Arash che vuole incontrarla alla centrale elettrica. È di umore triste e lui prova a rallegrala bucandole le orecchie e regalandole gli orecchini di diamanti. Lui cerca di baciarla e lei sembra pronta a confessargli che è una vampira ma un treno interrompe la loro conversazione e lei se ne va. Torna a casa. Hossein ha allucinazioni e crede che il gatto di Arash sia la moglie morta. Hossein distrugge tutte le sue foto. Questa volta Arash perde la sua pazienza, gli butta un po 'di soldi e alcune droghe e lo butta fuori di casa con il gatto. Ora che ha i soldi per pagare il sesso, Hossein va a casa di Atti. Le chiede di ballare con lui come ai vecchi tempi (erano amanti?) e la costringe a prendere l’eroina con lui. La vampira entra, li trova "lapidati" sul letto, lancia l'uomo sul pavimento e lo uccide brutalmente. Le due donne dispongono il corpo di Hossein per strada. Il bambino le vede da una finestra. Atti dà il gatto alla vampira. Il sole sorge sui macchinari del giacimento petrolifero. Il bambino porta Arash al corpo di Hossein. Arash torna a casa, prepara valigie e denaro e si dirige verso la casa della vampira. Le chiede di scappare con lui. Lei indossa il suo chador nero e abbraccia il gatto che lui riconosce, ma non dice nulla. Comincia a guidare nel buio. All'improvviso, si ferma senza dire una parola. Scende dalla macchina. Lei rimane seduta con il gatto in grembo (il gatto dimostra che lei è stata coinvolta nella morte di suo padre). Dopo qualche minuto, torna in macchina e accende la musica. Si fissano l'un l'altro, e lui ricomincia a guidare.