Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl (2016)
Ah, the Seventies. While often overlooked by modern horror fans as being the frumpy older brother of the shiny, exciting Eighties, the Seventies had a look, a vibe, and a dark clarity that was all its own. Many mourn the passing of the Seventies horror ethos. Some like director A.D. Calvo miss it enough to recreate it. Plot paragraph …
Plain, shy, country teen Adele (Erin Wilhelmi), whose only friend is a Walkman cassette player, is forced by her mother to become caregiver to her ailing Aunt Dora as the family need the money. Aunt Dora (Susan Kellermann) suffers from agoraphobic so Adele spends much of her time stuck in her aunt’s spooky looking New England house. A chance meeting with daring, vivacious Beth (Quinn Shephard) changes everything for Adele and so begins a tragic chain of events.
In the same way that my Sequence Break review started with a gatekeeper question, my Sweet Sweet Lonely Girl review comes with a similar declaration. If you love retro-Seventies horror you have come to the right place however this is closer to Don’t Look Now and Burnt Offerings, than Dawn of the Dead or Halloween.
Sweet Sweet Lonely Girl is about a relationship that spirals into a dark place rather than a steady parade of gore or shocks. This is a retro Seventies horror that likes to take its time. What it takes its time showing us is how Adele’s growing relationship with Beth, while awakening a welcome sense of liberation within her, is also setting her on a crash course with Aunt Dora’s fragile structured world.
Erin Wilhelmi and Quinn Shephard are perefectly cast as the polar opposites Adele and Beth. The contrast between them is clearly marked from the get-go with drab looking Adele being the innocent from the country compared to Beth’s more worldly, attractive city girl.
Without dropping any major spoilers I loved the way that this story slowly evolves into a supernatural tale, beginning with nothing at all. Adele just goes to look after her aunt and slowly, slowly, things start to change.
Sweet Sweet Lonely Girl succeeds in mounting up tension with a gradually increasing sense of the paranormal crowding into the frame of Adele’s humdrum life. What is beautifully played out is how we, the audience, are always one step ahead of hapless Adele until the darkness closes in around her.
Sweet Sweet Lonely Girl is obviously a labor of retro-love and felt to me very much like a gore-free cousin of the wonderful We Are Still Here. It has the Seventies vibe down perfectly.
My only concern with Sweet Sweet Lonely Girl was the ending. Although the general sweep of the final act all made sense to me the movie cut out rather fast with some intriguing images that asked more questions than they answered. While not an unforgivable case of style over content I felt that the journey doesn’t quite add up the destination we are left with. Maybe I just need to watch it a few more times?
Ultimately I would watch Sweet Sweet Lonely Girl again because it has such a wonderfully Seventies vibe to it. It felt like some of my favorite movies blended and revisited and the slow burn works like a dream. I just need help with the ending. Hahahaha.
Two word review: Groovy. Beguiling.