I’ve already written a post in reference to A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, an Iranian Vampire film by Ana Lily Amirpour. This time Ill be discussing a pivotal scene in the film in which The Girl makes her first on-screen kill by preying on the local drug dealer. The film is referred to as a vampire western, and is in black and white. The black and white functions both as a throwback to old school horror films, as well as promoting a comic book feel (there is a comic of the prelude to this film).
Prior to this scene, the drug dealer/pimp was abusing a hooker under his charge. Seeing a figure in his rear view mirror, the gangster gets spooked and leaves after throwing the hooker out of his car. The Girl targets him and engages him on the street. He invites her back to his place, unbeknownst to her identity as a vampire.
This scene begins with the two walking into his apartment. The scene opens with a shot of a fish tank, and has the two characters enter from off-screen. The gangster walks off-screen while the camera lingers on The Girl. As soon as the camera cuts to the gangster putting at the CD player, diegetic techno begins to play. diegetic music plays a big role in this film, as does soundtrack in general. The music is used as a powerful tool to set tone and build character.In the case of the drug dealer, techno music is generally associated with drug use, and throughout this scene the gangster is snorting lines of cocaine off the table.
The Girl, initially, is positioned on a higher level to the gangster, watching ominously in her robe in the background, like a predator about to pounce. Funnily enough, the entire apartment is decorated with predators and deer heads mounted on the wall, highlighting that both of these characters represent predators. After snorting a couple of lines of cocaine, and counting his money he moves back to the sound system and turns it up. At this point, the music slows down at a break in the music, at which point he is lifting waits and stares at the girl, trying to seduce and impress her. When the beat returns, he unzips his jacket and dances in front of her, peacocking. The camera cuts to The Girl, who looks down her nose at him in disdain, this however goes unnoticed by the drug dealer, who then returns to the couch to do more lines.
Sitting back on the couch, he offers her a line, which she ignores. instead she, positioned in the background of the frame, walks slowly around the corner, surveying the apartment. Positioning her in the background, and shrouded as she is, gives the impression that she is lurking about, giving off a threatening and tense atmosphere, which is communicated to the audience but escapes the gangster. The camera cuts to a tighter shot of the gangster, his head obscuring The Girl. At this point, the ringing of a cymbal disrupts the music and gets the attention of the dealer. The camera now cuts to the girl, who flicks the cymbal apathetically with her thumb. This a statement of the character that she disinterested in the gangsters actions and does not care about disrupting his ritual. It also serves as a tool to call him over, the look in her eyes in the following shot seems to communicate that she is aware he is coming over and is expecting him. Also at this point, the “sex” tattoo on his neck becomes clearly visible and vividly communicates his intentions. The music also changes again, to sustained synth chords, building tension as the look at each other. He strokes her face and lips, communicating his supposed dominance over her. The power dynamic shifts significantly when her fangs protract (the first time they are shown in the film), startling him, he pulls his hand away. The sound of her fangs is abrupt and punctuates the event. Also, just before the fangs, a rumbling sound crescendo’s to further mount tension and suspense, also giving an ominous tone, something violent is about to happen. She also lets of an audible breath, which has a reverb effect, this contributes the to other worldly nature of the character, the vampire. Furthermore, the techno music fades into silence, building building building the tension.
She lulls him into a false sense of security by taking his finger and pricking his finger with it. He makes a exclamation sound, as if to say “I see, its just a body modification” though his face still conveys caution and suprise. She begins sucking on his finger. At this point it is clear she is a vampire, so at this point she is playing with her food, building his ego up to punish him more. With this in mind, she chomps down on his finger, accompanied by a loud crunching noise. As he starts to panic, The Girl growls like a tiger, further enforcing the implication that she is the apex predator. Music returns, this time as score. Disconcerting string synth sounds amplify the horror. He falls to the ground screaming, at one point it cuts back to The Girl, who flaps her cloak like a bat. A quintessential vampire reference. It continues to cut back and forth, with him retreating and her advancing, looking down on her prey. She rubs his dismembered finger against his lips, like some sort of unholy retribution and karmic consequence for his unsavoury character. After tormenting him, she finally lunges at his neck and begins drinking his blood, accompanied by grotesque chomping and sucking sounds. Drums begin playing and build as the life is visibly disappears from his eyes.