There is no shortage of recent films with which to compare A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Is it the next Let the Right One In , Only Lovers Left Alive , 30 Days of Night , or Twilight , let alone the slew of TV shows that have mushroomed out of the open coffin? Does the Vampire recoil from crosses, can it cross running water, is it destroyed by sunlight (or does it sparkle)? Who are its victims? What is the ethical statement of this incarnation of Vampirism? For what is Vampirism a metaphor in this version?
What we have instead of any of that is the most original vampire narrative that I’ve seen in a good few years. It’s a film which essentially declines to engage with all of those questions and refuses to make any obvious comparisons with other recent Vampire lore. It shows the lonely and stilted life of a Vampire living in a broken society. It does not romanticise this life, and nor does it try and gloss over the underlying horror – it is in fact the perfect antidote to the sickeningly cloying and vacuous Only Lovers Left Alive.
I’ve tried a few times to clinically note what made this film so astonishing to me. I remember having a conversation about Citizen Kane with a film student a few years ago, who was trying to sell it as the greatest work of cinema ever. After a couple of hours of back-and-forth they kind of gave up in exasperation and told me that if I wanted to understand what made it the classic it’s purported to be, I’d really need to get myself to film school. In a way, that’s how I feel about this film, because in my first draft of several thousand words I found myself essentially writing about every single scene as having something of interest… at which point, I’ve gotta say, just go see this movie if you can. If you don’t get why I’m raving about it, get yourself to Vampire school.