*Review based on a free copy of the film provided by Amazon
I had heard the buzz about this film before its DVD release – an intelligent, seductive vampire film set in Iran. Naturally, with its setting the film earned some recognition in the wider film critic circuits outside of the horror circle and many people were praising it for its look, approach, directing, and originality. Horror critics and fans have been more divided, with those looking for traditional vampire related scares being underwhelmed by the hype, while others have rated it highly for not following the expected footpaths. Having looked forward to it, and now having seen it, I can say that it is a slow-burning drama which happens to feature a vampire in an unusual, foreign setting, one with several good performances, a good soundtrack, some gorgeous shots, and smooth direction. While it is not without its faults to my tastes, it does clearly take a more artful approach to the subject matter, but is nevertheless a success.
The film tells the story of a young, seemingly honest man who works himself to the bone to support his addict father. The man is dearly looking for love in a cold, bleak world, stealing a cat in the hope of feeling something. Lurking the same streets he lives on is an ageless female vampire, draped in traditional Iranian garb, who steals jewellery in return for cash, loves 80s music, and occasionally kills and feeds upon homeless people of those she sees as evil. Hers is an equally bland and loveless existence, and when the two meet they begin an unusual relationship based on fear, respect, and something akin to love. The two leads both excel in their roles, moving swiftly between vague, dreamlike, placid, and vicious when called to.
The film is low on gore, but the scenes of violence are brilliantly realised and filled with tension; One scene involving a wicked drug gangster is reminiscent of a famous scene in Near Dark. As well as these pieces are shot, there is some unnecessary surplus, including one drawn out scene with a dancer and a balloon. The deleted scenes offer more to understand the purpose of this scene, but not enough to justice its inclusion. Critics made a big deal of the film being from Iran (though filmed in US) but none of the obvious politics or religious or cultural aspects you would expect to see are visible – it’s simply a film set in a destitute place with characters striving for warmth and feeling – in other words it could have been set anywhere, although the backdrop does offer those nice shots we’ve spoken of, with an industrial feeling almost like Eraserhead.
Movie fans looking for big scares may be disappointed by this – it is more akin to Nadja than Dracula. If you want an interesting, well acted story involving a vampire then this is well worth a watch.
Let us know in the comments what you think of this one!