M.L. Miller here! As I go into my tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Seven of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2016 and going through September 30, 2017. I have posted Best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on May 4, 2017! Available On Demand, digital download, & DVD here! Also streaming on Shudder!
SWEET SWEET LONELY GIRL (2016)
Directed by A.D. Calvo
Written by A.D. Calvo
Starring Quinn Shephard, Susan Kellermann, Erin Wilhelmi, Hada Vanessa, Frances Eve, Mike S. Ryan, Rob Tunstall, Lainie Ventura, Kristin Johansen, A.J. Helm, Jonathan Holtzman, Matt Goyette, David Pirrie, Adam Schartoff
Find out more about this film here, @sweetsweetlonelygirl, and on Facebook here
Reminiscent in tone of Ty West’s HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, DON’T LOOK NOW, and ALICE SWEET ALICE, and in subject matter of THE MOTH DIARIES, A.D. Calvo’s haunting coming of age horror story SWEET, SWEET LONELY GIRL is a ghost story you’ll not soon forget.
Erin Wilhelmi stars as Adele, a shy young girl who is told to help out her reclusive Aunt Dora by her mother in hopes that they receive her inheritance when she passes. Unlike her gold-digging and pregnant mother, Adele actually has fond memories of spending the summer with her Aunt and gladly accepts the job to get some freedom from her oppressive mother. Once in Aunt Dora’s decadent Victorian home, Adele finds herself lonelier than ever as her Aunt never leaves her room and only communicates with Adele through notes passed under the door. While shopping for Aunt Dora’s eclectic menu at the local supermarket, Adele encounters Beth (Quinn Shephard) an outgoing gal who notices the shy girl staring at her. Seeing her again in a bar, Beth confronts Adele and the two soon spark up a deep friendship that turns into a romance. But while Adele’s love runs deep, she is too naïve to see that Beth is just having a good time. Meanwhile, things back at Aunt Dora’s are getting dire and the loneliness that runs thick through the dark house is creeping ever slowly into Adele’s soul.
SWEET, SWEET LONELY GIRL is a film made painstakingly as if it were crafted in the seventies. From the styles of clothing to the music to the overall cinematography, the film feels as if it were more of a long-lost discovery of a film rather than something fresh and new. Yet that is exactly why this film feels so fresh and new. While many films of this sort ape the seventies gritty and grindhousey style in order to wink at the viewer and make obnoxious jabs at the fads of this era, SWEET, SWEET LONELY GIRL simply exists in this era and feels authentic and real. Because there is no self-consciousness to speak of in this film, the danger of both putting oneself out there with the risk of being hurt as well as the supernatural danger that is creeping up on Adele in the periphery struck me deeply. I was surprised how into the relationship I was taken between these two young girls. And yet it is all because of how genuine everything felt—from the introduction of Adele, soulfully listening to her walkman and walking through a fall afternoon to the developing relationship between Adele and Beth that feels authentic although much of it feels like schoolgirl fantasy if you describe it.
Erin Wilhelmi is a true find as Adele. She has a soulful feel about her coupled with a real sense of mystery behind her sad eyes. Quinn Shephard is the opposite—full of life and vigor with a knowing look of worldly experience behind her eyes. Seeing these two girls meet and develop a relationship makes you root for them to survive. This being a horror movie, you know something dire is going to happen, but nevertheless, filmmaker A.D. Calvo sets the stage so well that I found myself wishing this film would change genres to avoid the inevitable tragedy that looms over this film like an executioner’s blade.
Once the axe drops, the terror is thick and potent. Calvo spends most of the movie setting up a terrifying scenario around Adele with her too starry eyed to see it, so it is way too late once she notices. Some well-placed beats of terror really do even out this film. Still, most of the horror doesn’t happen until the last fifteen minutes. By that time, I was so wrapped up in rooting for Adele that it was painful to see when the climax finally rears its head. SWEET, SWEET LONELY GIRL is for appreciators of slow burn horror. It’s retro-vibe is going to be appealing, but this film is much more powerful than nostalgia. It succeeds in telling a sophisticated tale of an unconventional relationship (for the time, that is) and then placing that relationship in real danger. The final moments had me curling my toes in terror. Calvo succeeds in creating a retro-gothic horror tale that is unforgettably authentic in its tone and bone-chillingly terrifying in its resolution. Highly recommended.
THE 2016-2017 COUNTDOWN!
#10 – SWEET SWEET LONELY GIRL
#11 – SAVAGELAND
#12 – IT COMES AT NIGHT
#13 – THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER
#14 – THE SIMILARS
#15 – HOWL
#16 – SEOUL STATION
#17 – THE TRANSFIGURATION
#18 – THE GREASY STRANGLER
#19 – I AM THE PRETTY THING IN THE HOUSE
#20 – ANNABELLE 2: CREATION
#21 – SPLIT
#22— TRASH FIRE
#23 – 47 METERS DOWN
#24 – HELL HOUSE LLC
#25 – THE SUBLET
#26 – PATCHWORK
#27 – IT STAINS THE SANDS RED
#28 – GERALD’S GAME
#29 – LAKE BODOM
#30 – NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE
#31 – THE EVIL WITHIN
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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