Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl is a new gothic horror film set in the Reagan-era of the 1980s. The film is directed by A.D. Calvo and available exclusively on Shudder. I certainly enjoy haunted house flicks and psychological thrillers but they’re generally not among my favorites. I’m usually not excited to review them, to be sure.
That doesn’t apply to Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl. I liked the film a lot, and I’m excited to review it.
Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl starts with a young woman named Adele (Erin Wilhelmi) moving in to a large, creepy Victorian home to take care of her agoraphobic Aunt Dora. Upon seeing the house I immediately registered the movie as a nod to the 1976 Karen Black classic Burnt Offerings, which I love, so I was ready to give this one a chance.
The film’s title is very appropriate, as it becomes very clear that Adele is both sweet and lonely. Her life basically consists of cleaning the giant house and making meals for crazy Aunt Dora.
Let’s discuss that for a bit…
Aunt Dora’s agoraphobia is apparently pretty severe, as she won’t even leave her room, let alone the house. Oh, and these meals that Adele makes her? It’s a steady diet of imported sardines and heart pills, so I’m sure that old Victorian smelled fantastic.
That old Victorian is a great setting, and much like any good gothic haunt story, a character in and of itself. Full of weird trinkets, creepy statues and one of those motion-activated night lights, the house does its job; it’s creepy as hell. The story really picks up when the character of Beth (Quinn Shephard) is introduced. Beth is basically Adele’s polar opposite. She’s a sexy, trendy spark-plug of a chick who befriends Adele and slowly convinces her to get out of the sardine-infused old house and live a little.
At this point I won’t get too detailed with the review so as not to spoil it. Suffice it to say that Adele starts to break out of her Carrie-White-ish shell and some of her decisions, intentional or not, have some catastrophic consequences. And look, having a creepy old agoraphobic aunt locked up in the corner bedroom is a recipe for some seriously spooky shit, and Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl doesn’t disappoint. In fact, there’s a recurring little image that kicks the creepy dial up to a Spinal Tap eleven.
Here are my final thoughts:
The casting in Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl was brilliant. Erin Whilhelmi and Quinn Shephard as Adele and Beth absolutely make this movie. I generally view jump scares as cheap, but there’s one in this flick that pays off. Look, don’t beat yourself up looking for it. It’s gonna happen and you’re gonna pee a little. Just enjoy the movie.
The pacing is interesting in Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl. I usually get bored with haunted house movies. I won’t lie: this particular movie is a slow burn and there were several instances where I started to get bored, but just I was about to reach that precipice something would happen and reel me back in. Then the ending came along at break-neck speed, which is also– more often than not– a cheap move. Others that have reviewed this film feel it’s just that, and they say the ending is the only black mark on an otherwise great film. In my opinion, I thought the ending was perfect, and I could do nothing but smile as the credits rolled.