Thursday, November 5, 2015

"A Girl Walks Home At Night" by Johnny Jewel

What a great vampire flick. There's a lot of classic stuff going on here. The film is in black and white, and a lot of the aesthetic here is an homage to French and Italian new wave, not a style often referred to in modern horror films. The music, by Johnny Jewel of the great Portland synth-pop duo the Chromatics (along with various others), manages to be very cutting edge but also to work within that new wave aesthetic. Even the techno that a coke-snorting, slimy drug dealer listens to is top notch. Lots of incongruous elements are fitted together nicely; an operatic female voice sings over a ragtime piano in an atmosphere of strings; a deep, vintage-y guitar slowly tremolos under a male voice singing in (presumably) Farsi; we also have the more standard fare of low percussion decaying endlessly and soaked in reverb while dissonant high strings freak us out. There's definitely some sonic references to David Lynch's "Eraserhead" in the sound design (or any Lynch film afterward and through Mulholland Drive); infinite drones that perfectly complement the dark, empty streets of the film's setting of Bad City. Much of the soundtrack is Iranian pop, which works well, and also the Portland band Federale, which lends a spaghetti western-ish aspect to the mix. It's an extremely varied soundtrack that somehow manages to work within the world it underscores.

You can currently stream "A Girl Walks Home At Night" on Netflix. Or if you can manage to see it in the theater, I'd imagine that would be worth it.

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