Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Transfiguration, or: You Know He’s a Vampire When…

One of the best films by far of the blog collab has been A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, an Iranian movie about a skateboarding vampire.  If it worked for us once, why not give the modern vampire film another go, complete with gore and some surprisingly beautiful shots of the beach?

The Film:

The Transfiguration

The Premise:

A teen who believes he is a vampire begins to feel remorse about his disturbing behavior when he befriends a teen girl who moves in to his apartment building.

The Ramble:

While on the surface a quiet, reflective teenager, Milo is secretly obsessed with vampires–and may in fact be a vampire.  Based on his own carefully timed schedule, Milo periodically selects an unlucky victim, who he stabs in the neck with a concealed knife and then drinks the blood.  An opportunist, Milo also takes their cash with him and stores it in a secret stash.

Considered a freak in his NYC neighborhood, a group of rather douchey older teens pick on him constantly.  At school, Milo’s counselor seems to be very concerned that he may be hurting animals and has no friends.  Milo lives with his brother, and seems to be concealing some disturbing thoughts and feelings surrounding the death of their mother.

a boy sits outside on the steps of a fire escape at night, taking notes from a book
I know what you did last summer…

When Sophie moves in with her abusive grandfather, she bonds with Milo immediately even though her favorite vampire movie is Twilight.  Gaining a reputation as a loose woman, Sophie endures ridicule and finds comfort in cutting herself.  The two outcasts become close, but Sophie backs off when Milo shows her some of his favorite video clips of animals being killed.  I mean, she’s not wrong about that being a giant red flag.

a teenage boy and girl sit next to each other outside on an abandoned piece of furniture
Also being a fan of “Ripping out squirrels’ entrails and feeding them to piranhas” on Facebook could be considered a clue.

Though Sophie and Milo do have a bit of a push/pull, she ultimately moves in to escape her grandfather and stays in watching a lot of vampire movies with Milo.  Meanwhile, Milo continues to give in to his vampiric urges.  All of this seems surprisingly sustainable…which is how you know something has to give.

teenagers recline on a bed, watching TV while snacking on popcorn
Relationship goals.

Milo is chillingly successful at containing his feelings, as evidenced by his interaction with a pair of white teens trying to score some drugs.  Assuming everyone in the area is a dealer, they ask Milo if he can hook them up.  Milo agrees to help them, and leads the guy to an incredibly creepy basement room.  Once there, Milo lures his bullies over, where things escalate much too quickly and someone ends up dead.

As a witness to all of this, Milo now holds power but insists he isn’t a snitch.  What will Milo do with this newfound power, and is it enough to keep him safe?  And will his  vampiric thirst for blood ever be quenched?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

The premise of this film is incredibly original, drawing parallels between vampirism and the violence, lack of opportunity, and despair Milo feels.  It’s also wonderfully tense; it’s unclear at times whether Milo loves Sophie or wants to drink her blood, which I guess is at the heart of all vampire films.  Despite the body count Milo has racked up, I couldn’t help rooting for him and hoping for him to put his vampire past behind him and find a way out of his situation with the boys in his neighborhood.

That being said, some of the tension is lost in the very loose plot of this film, and I would’ve liked more action and perhaps a better glimpse into Milo’s thoughts.  Just as he remains quiet and aloof to those around him, Milo remains something of a mystery to us too.  Some of his actions are extremely thoughtful and caring, while others are uncomfortably calculated and detached.  We explore Milo as a vampire–but more importantly, as someone deeply misunderstood and attempting to make sense of grief.

On a side note, I got kind of distracted thinking about when this film was set, as Milo has a collection of VHS tapes, a phone that looks to be from the early 2000s, and uses a computer exclusively to watch video clips that may have been posted on a blog?

Would my blog wife give this one a bite or opt for a burger instead?  Find out by reading her review here!

 

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, or: I Can Take Your Eyes out of Your Skull

Foreign films, round two. This one is Christa’s pick.

I’m not even going to try to create any sort of suspense here; I loved this film (spoiler spoiler spoiler).

See what Christa thought here!

The Film:

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

I saw a review describing this as the first Iranian vampire western. I would also argue it is the first (only?) feminist vampire movie. With a cat.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

There’s a cat in this film, and it’s actually pretty important to the (admittedly not overly involved) plot. I was initially afraid this was going to get all Gummo, but don’t worry—nothing bad happens to the cat. (I guess that’s a spoiler, but whatever. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t care what happens to the cat at the end, you deserve to have all film endings spoiled. Probably).

a man drives a vintage car with a
The cat seriously deserves an Oscar for the range of emotions on its face.

So our protagonist is Arash, a young man who works hard but keeps getting caught up in his father’s nonsense and the general shittiness of living in Bad City. His father is a junkie, gambler, and owes a lot of money to this super shady pimp/loan shark/not 100% sure what his job description is. Whatever he does for a living, he’s a total douche as exhibited by (a) threatening the fucking cat, (b) his “SEX” neck tattoo, and (c) taking Arash’s car as payment for his father’s debts.

It’s okay, readers. This tool doesn’t have long to live. He makes his last mistake by kicking a prostitute to the curb without payment for services rendered. Sketchy dudes of Bad City, beware: you never know who or what is watching you. Spoiler alert: vampire. Totally a vampire. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand she kills him.

Later, in what is possibly my favorite moment of the entire film, the vampire threatens to feed a little boy’s eyes to dogs, then steals his skateboard.

a woman wearing a hijab talks to a young boy, telling him "I can take your eyes out of your skull"
Have I ever told you you’re my heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeero?

It may not surprise you that Arash meets the vampire one night. He is leaving a costume party dressed as a vampire and has just taken E or something…I don’t know, guys. I have little to no street cred. Whatever he took, it makes one particular streetlamp absolutely fascinating to him, apparently. The vampire approaches him, and he then wraps her in his cape because she feels cold. Then she pushes him on the skateboard to her place. Honestly, this scene was about 10,000x more adorable than I can convey here. They also have basically the most tension-filled non-sex scene ever.

a man and woman stand close together in a room decorated with many posters
Oh my god, just make out already. Now. …Now. …NOW.

When they meet again later, Arash brings the vampire a hamburger; if that’s not love, I don’t know what is. He also gives her stolen earrings and pierces her ears with a safety pin…awwwwwwwww?

The Critique:

Okay, I think she’s the first feminist vampire, and this may be the first feminist vampire movie. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m not an expert because I think vampires are just not scary at all and have to follow a lot of arbitrary rules. Plus lady vampires usually have to be “sexy” vampires, which is just so infuriating.

Straight talk: this is a majorly hipster-y movie; the vampire listens to music on a record player, has a disco ball in her room, and I think I spotted Michael Jackson on the wall. And sometimes this movie is really bizarre; there’s this scene of a woman dancing with a balloon to sort of operatic music. I’m still puzzling over that one.

However, this is a gorgeous film, part love story, part story of bringing justice to Bad City. So…Iranian vampire western. Accurate. (To be honest, I was thinking of Rango the whole time and expecting the little owl mariachi band to appear at any moment.) Much more of a creepy/suspenseful film than a gory horror.

The director’s next project is apparently “a post-apocalyptic cannibal love story set in a Texas wasteland” where a “muscled cannibal breaks the rule ‘don’t play with your food.” Ana Lily Amirpour, WHERE have you been all my life???

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 5/5 Pink Panther Heads

We’re doing it; we’re going with a perfect score. I don’t mean to say this is a perfect film that is completely free of WTF moments, but it was original, it was creepy, it was tense, and it had a cat. As close to perfection as possible.

Christa’s review is available here!