Jonathan White’s review published on Letterboxd:
Those who know me, know that I’ve never been a true fan of the Vampire genre. I liked Interview with a Vampire well enough, but didn’t really love it. The seemingly insatiable appetite that the general public has for the blood suckers continues to mystify me.
A few years ago at TIFF, my vampire loving wife picked Byzantium, director Neil Jordan’s return to the genre 18 years after his genre high point, Interview. I have to say I was mildly intrigued by his take and the relationship of his two female leads. The TIFF before last, another Vampire take .. this time by Jim Jarmusch. Wow, how did he manage to refresh an overexposed genre with such ease? OK, this has to be the seminal Vampire film that cannot be transcended in terms of originality and characterization. I believe that completely, and in believing such, I don’t have to watch any other Vampire film.
I then see my friend Len’s review of an Iranian Vampire Western. Immediately there is controversy that this isn’t, in fact, an Iranian film, it’s filmed in California, and funded in the US. I actually don’t think that matters a hoot, and I don’t think that British born and US raised director Ana Lily Amirpour mining her Iranian roots to craft an entirely new take on the Vampire is anything other than brilliant. It doesn't matter that it’s filmed in California, as opposed to Iran, and that the actors are American / Iranian, with the emphasis on American. What matters most is that Amirpour brilliantly used obfuscating language to deliver a hard sci-fi concept. This is an American film, but because it’s set in the fictional Iranian town ‘Bad City’ she’s free to comment on North American culture while the audience is distracted by subtitles.
For a first feature, I have to say that I’m damned impressed. If I would have to compare, I’d say this is Sin City meets Tarantino and Lynch with a hint of Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. Lily Amirpour is unafraid to hold on a dramatically beautiful shot for as long as it takes to deliver her thin exposition, knowing that the viewer won’t be listening to the rather unimportant diatribe, but rather concentrating on the majesty and mystery of the visuals.
Although on a first watch it didn’t really try to unravel and explore, but for the vampire themes of sucking the life out of humans paired with the unrelenting oil pumps sucking the life out of the earth was certainly interesting.
This might just be my favorite Vampire film ever. It’s on Netflix US, and I strongly suggest you give it a try.