(director/writer: Ana Lily Amirpour; cinematographer: Lyle Vincent; editor: Alex O’Flinn; music: Radio Tehran/Kiosk/Bei Ru; cast: Sheila Vand (the Girl), Arash Marandi (Arash), Mozhan Marno (Atti), Dominic Rains (Saeed), Milad Eghbali (the Street Urchin), Rome Shadanloo (Shaydah), Marshall Manesh (Hossein), Reza Sixo Safai (the Rockabilly); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Sina Sayyah/Justin Begnaud/Ana Lily Amirpour; Kino Lorber; 2014-USA-in Farsi with English subtitles)

Though alluring, enjoyable and well-crafted, when all is digested its strangeness seems as empty of substance as cotton candy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It holds the distinction of being the first made Iranian vampire flick in the west. The accomplished debut feature is from L.A.-based writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour. The odd story revolves around a Middle Eastern feminist vampire who romances an aimless but soulful young urban man. The low-budget indie is shot in luminous black-and-white. It’s set in the ghost-like desolate industrial oil town of Bad City, an imaginary Iranian underworld (filmed in the San Joaquin Valley).

At night, in Bad City, where the oil rigs noisily work around the clock, no one is aware that a vampire, known as the Girl (Sheila Vand), walks the deserted streets at night looking for prey, covered by her black chador, and like an avenging angel takes pleasure of ridding the population of such vile men as the nasty tattooed drug dealer (Dominic Rains) and the selfish widowed bad father junkie Hossein (Marshall Manesh). She also meets on the street, Hossein’s son, the goofy and clueless hipster Arash (Arash Marandi), who catches her fancy when he so innocently woos her dressed as Dracula after walking home from a Halloween costume party. It must be love, when at a later meeting she lets him pierce her ears.The fable-like mood piece, reflecting the pop culture scenes of both the 1980s and 1950s, is strangely affecting in a stylish way, as it takes us into the dark night streets to see the mysterious vampire interact with, among others, the likes of a bratty urchin (Milad Eghbali) and a 30-year-old street-walker (Rome Shadanloo). Adding to its fascinating weirdness is a soundtrack of Persian rock music, the fawning over a valued 1957 Ford Thunderbird possession and a well-photographed attention grabbing quiet pet cat named Masuka. Though alluring, enjoyable and well-crafted, when all is digested its strangeness seems as empty of substance as cotton candy.

REVIEWED ON 11/28/2014 GRADE: B  https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”