Director – A.D. Calvo
Cast – Erin Wilhelmi, Quinn Shephard, Susan Kellermann, Frances Eve
Release Year – 2017
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl is the newest film from Argentinian horror director A.D. Calvo. He has several other horror titles under his belt (which I had never heard of), but this is my first viewing of his work. While a horror film at heart, this effort will bridge into elements of a psychological drama. If you go into this film as blind as I did (I never viewed a trailer), then you will be left wondering what direction the story will take you in. By giving us elements of different sub-genres the story is forced to divide the horror, and in doing so it left me underwhelmed. This effort has its positives, but they are overshadowed by the ideas that ultimately go nowhere.
Erin Wilhelmi (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) stars as Adele, a young girl desperately awaiting a chance to leave her home for a better life. That chance arrives when she is sent to work as the caretaker for her rich aunt Dora. Her aunt is an agoraphobic who does not leave her bedroom and prefers to speak via notes slid from under her door. This leaves Adele with nobody to talk to, until she meets Beth – a free spirit who liberates Adele from the doldrums of her aunt’s home, and down a spiral that leads to devastating results.
The first thing I noticed upon hitting the play button is that the film is 76 minutes including the credits. After viewing the flick I can say the end credits hit at the 70 minute mark. Yup, this is a very short feature-length film. This short runtime comes with both pros and cons. Typically, a shorter runtime will equate to a faster pace. That isn’t quite the case here, as the film still “feels” like it is 90 minutes or more. This means the film doesn’t receive any advantage from its shorter runtime. Instead, we are left with a story that is lacking in many areas. There are several ideas, from supernatural horror to a psychodrama that simply don’t go anywhere. They are touched on, but they are not pursued and instead serve as a tease – and not the good kind. This isn’t something you notice right away either. It took me until the third act to realize that the story would likely not be fulfilling its potential. I was proven correct, and we are instead left with a climax that will leave you not just scratching your head, but shaking it too.
The other thing I noticed right off the bat is the film’s gorgeous atmosphere. With this being a horror drama, atmosphere is essential in keeping the viewer engaged. These films are slow and sometimes uneventful, so it helps to at least have the visuals sucking you in. The atmosphere bleeds into Dora’s home, which would be perfect for a devoutly supernatural film. The old creaking floors add a creepiness that can only benefit the story. Sadly, the film looks much scarier than the story allows it to be. This is as good as it gets when it comes to the direction though. A dramatic film like this requires solid acting, and I must say that the acting is just OK at best. I did enjoy the character play between Adele and Beth. Watching their relationship grow was one of the film’s finer points, although this too does not achieve full potential. Because of this, nobody carries the film, and we don’t see our lead Adele go through any emotional extremes. Instead, the story has her go from a girl you pity to a girl that disappoints you, and that left me caring for her even less as the film went on.
As for the horror, it is minor but there are a few key scenes here. It is never scary, although it definitely has the potential to be. There are vibes of supernatural horror that take over later on, but they don’t hit very hard. The scariest scene the film has to offer is an early jump scare that was quite effective to me, but nonetheless one I forgot about quickly.
Overall, Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl is a film I really wanted to like, but there are too many negatives for this to be a positive review. It has its moments, but these scenes are few and far between. Instead, they are drowned out with mediocrity resulting from great ideas that don’t go anywhere.