First of all: What a great and clever title. It immediately invokes certain images, feelings and fears… all of which the movie ultimately proves wrong. Here, the titular girl is not some potential victim, no damsel in distress, but rather the perpetrator, the “monster”. But not only the title was great, but also the movie. If it wouldn’t have been for some rather predictable developments near the end (father, cat, and so on), the fact that the movie started to feel a little long after the +1 hour mark, as well as the rather underwhelming ending itself, I might even rank it among the best movies that I’ve seen at this years Viennale. But even with those flaws I enjoyed it quite a lot.
In the interest of full disclosure, though, I should point out that I saw this with two of my friends from the /slash Filmfestival, and of the three of us, I was the one that – by far – liked it the most. Flo thought that it would have worked a lot better without the vampire angle (which he thought was totally unnecessary), and Lena (whose review you’ll be able to read one of these days on her site) didn’t like it at all, thinking that it drowned in its own coolness. However, for me, the movie worked (apart from the aforementioned flaws, of course). I liked its style, the black and white photography, the heavy western influence, the setting, the sometimes Tarantinoesque feel to it, the concept, and so on. I thought that the “monster” was very well done; the Chador that she was wearing was a clever twist on Dracula’s coat. I also liked the interspersed humor (the movie is surprisingly funny at times), and also the central love story; while nothing special, it was rather nicely developed, with some very romantic scenes.
The actors were quite good too. The standout of the ensemble definitely is Sheila Vand, who has an enigmatic presence that glued my eyes to her whenever she was on the screen. She also has these big, expressive eyes, a beautiful face, and gives a haunting performance. Thanks to her, the titular girl works as well as love interest as she does as a monster. She has a very alluring quality, but can also come off as really threatening. All other actors and actresses pale in comparison, even though Arash Marandi also gives a decent performance. As as someone who just recently started watching HIMYM, it was nice to see Marshall Manesh again. If – apart from the aforementioned flaws – there’s one potential drawback to the movie (which I didn’t mind, but others might), it’s that the story is soooo nothing special. I mean, yeah, it’s nice to see the tables turned and to have the woman as the predator instead of the prey, but even that isn’t particular original anymore, not even in the vampire-movie-subgenre (two other recent examples that come to mind immediately are “Let the Right One In” and “Byzantium”; both of which I found superior to this one, btw). However, the stellar performance by Sheila Vand, the great, moody direction by Ana Lily Amirpour, the glorious black and white photography as well as the tremendous coolness the movie emitted, altogether successfully overshadowed the rather bland story for me.