I don’t often write about contemporary horror films on my blog. There’s a multitude of reasons, but mostly – I just don’t care for a vast majority of them. Though if we’re being totally honest, I don’t think the last slew of forgettable 80’s slashers I’ve been watching are exactly top-notch either.
But I always feel more guilty disliking a new film versus a 1983 film that has already made it’s money. When a new horror film is great, I love screaming about it from the hilltops.
So when I saw there was a new film on Shudder that was likened to Ti West’s The House of the Devil (which is a personal favourite), I was rather excited. Unfortunately, Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl is nothing like House of the Devil.
Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl is the story of Adele, a girl who has moved to a town to take care of her elderly aunt with agoraphobia. Adele is quiet and meek, but mostly just bored. It’s not very helpful that her aunt rarely speaks to her, even when Adele mentions seeing a photograph of her aunt in her younger days.
Her Aunt Dora leaves her notes that she slides under the door. Adele must leave her aunt’s meals at the door and follow whatever the notes tell her to do. She’s also in charge of the cash.
While shopping in the grocery store one day, Adele spots a girl testing out pomegranates and flirting with the stock boy. Adele is immediately smitten. She buys the fruit and tries it for herself.
By chance, the two girls meet again when Adele goes to a pizza parlor and the mysterious girl offers to buy her a slice. The girl introduces herself as Beth. She’s the cliched “worldly girl” that appears in these movies. She wears berets! She knows a lot about Victorian history! She orders Manhattans! She doesn’t care what other people think!
Adele can’t see through this shit and I really don’t feel sorry for her.
Beth stops by Aunt Dora’s home one day during her run and Adele reluctantly lets her new friend inside the house. The two try on dresses that they find in the basement and, you know, bond!
But Beth’s bad influence is quick. Adele is constantly stealing money from her aunt, who refuses to give her an advance, and is coaxed into buying a ‘natural remedy’ instead of Dora’s expensive heart medication. Then they are caught spying on Dora when they slide a mirror under her door. It was these two scenes that made me decide that I really disliked Adele. A lot. Sweet, sweet my ass.
Adele leaves her sickly aunt behind to go with Beth to a cabin. They hang out on the beach and take pills. Beth admits to Adele that she had an abortion after having unprotected sex with a man while on quaaludes. After that, they take some gravestone rubbings. Spooky.
Despite the fact that the two kissed earlier, Adele is later rejected by her Beth. Absolutely crushed, Adele takes Beth’s pills and takes a cab back to Aunt Dora’s home. But, unsurprisingly, Aunt Dora is already dead because that’s what you get for playing pharmacist.
Aunt Dora’s death hardly phases Adele. She immediately starts going through her aunt’s things. She finds a ring and goes to take it to Beth with an attached apology note, but when Adele arrives at Beth’s flat, she discovers that there’s a naked man in Beth’s bed! Shock, horror (because you didn’t see that coming when you’re into a “worldly girl”).
Distraught (though not about her dead aunt), Adele begins to popping Beth’s pills like they’re going out of date. She begins to have hallucinations of her aunt in her rocking chair. She begins to start pawning off her aunt’s things. She buys a new outfit and then has love-less sex with a random man at a bar.
Then on one, dark stormy night – shit begins to go down. And it’s pretty standard: Adele finds that her childhood toy has been moved. Then she discovers that the front door has been left open, and – surprise – Beth is there when she turns around.
But Beth isn’t quite herself. Adele panics when the bell that her aunt used to ring for service keeps going off. She runs into the basement, sensing that something isn’t quite right (or its all those drugs). The sweet, sweet lonely girl attempts to hide, but is eventually caught by the being that is following her. And what that thing is, we’re never really explained.
And the ending, well, I won’t spoil it, but I think this was inevitable as soon as Adele picked up that stupid photograph.
Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention (though I’m pretty certain I was), but a lot of things weren’t explained. Like who was the random old lady that gave Beth flowers at the cemetery? Was it from an admirer? Why even include that? What the hell is Beth’s deal? Has she been going this for centuries? Is she from the Victorian era? Why does she talk about the Victorian era so much when the rest of the film ignores it and has the girls dress up in flapper dresses?
Why does anything matter?
Why did I watch this movie?
I guess there’s nothing seriously wrong with Sweet, Sweey Lonely Girl other than I wish it actually answered something. It’s not the greatest talent in the world to write something open-ended without explanation. There is no backstory built into the film, and I honestly think that this is a case where a little less mystery would have paid off. But the film is really stunning and probably worth watching for that alone.
Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl is now streaming exclusively on Shudder.