Single White Female 1992 Movie Scene Bridget Fonda as Allison in a S & M fetish nightclub

Single White Female [1992]

After we’ve met the nanny from hell in The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, it’s time to meet the roommate from hell in this movie. Single White Female is a nineties erotic thriller that stood the test of time and is still worth watching. It’s based on John Lutz’s 1990 novel SWF Seeks Same and this gives it a dose of authenticity. You don’t feel like you’re watching this movie just for the titillating scenes. For example, Sensation is a movie like that. Single White Female is more of a psychological thriller featuring well-developed characters and a solid plot.

However, that statement does come with a small caveat but more about that later. We should also take a minute to let the title of this movie really sink in. There’s one word there, one qualifier that feels just a tad bit nasty. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Just a year later, we got another erotic thriller following a young girl who moves into a new apartment, Sliver. Starring Sharon Stone, it also features a technological aspect that’s important to the story. Ahhh, the nineties, a time when the Internet was finally becoming a thing and people started realizing its power.

And before you start wracking your brain, the name of that thriller starring Sandra Bullock is The Net. You’re welcome. So, we will be following Allison, a young programmer who after a break-up finds the perfect roommate. Or at least that’s what she thinks Heddy is. Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh were excellent here along with Steven Weber. I fell in love with Fonda as soon as I saw her in Jackie Brown. She’s not only beautiful but also a very talented actress. However, I must admit that her performance here was overshadowed by Leigh’s. Heddy was at the same time familiar and approachable all the while being scary and unhinged. Something that’s difficult to pull off. 

After Allison broke up with Sam, she started looking for a roommate. Her big apartment is just too much for her alone. She interviewed many potential roommates until finally settling on Heddy, a young and mysterious girl who likes to keep things to herself. At first, everything was working out great but after a while, Allison started noticing certain things. Things that made her very afraid.

The tension in Single White Female just keeps rising and rising until it culminates in one hell of a finale. The apartment building itself is like an additional veteran actor giving even more room for various gimmicks. It also makes the somewhat far-fetched scenes feel a bit more realistic. The only thing I didn’t like was the lack of gore or violence. I mean, this is kind of a slasher movie. And just look at how successfully Basic Instinct used that gimmick.

Finally, I do want to address something that keeps bothering me with these nineties thrillers. While the characters seem well-developed they at the same time also feel plastic. Like they’re not real and subsequently, you start caring less about what happens to them. Instead of that, the movie focuses on the steamy and sexually-charged atmosphere. Bridget Fonda and especially Jennifer Jason Leigh are oftentimes nude or seminude, just vibing in the apartment.

P.S. If you’re looking for more stories about roommates from hell, I recommend you check out Worst Roommate Ever. This true-crime documentary television series is available on Netflix. It features several true stories told by people who managed to escape their terrifying roommates. Unfortunately, one of them is about someone who wasn’t so lucky to survive.

Director: Barbet Schroeder

Writers: John Lutz, Don Roos

Cast: Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Steven Weber, Peter Friedman, Stephen Tobolowsky

Fun Facts: The apartment building you see in the movie Single White Female is actually The Ansonia on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Same as most of the old buildings it doesn’t have a 13th floor. If you want to know more about this superstition read this article about the Thirteenth Floor on Wiki.


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