Adele (Erin Wilhelmi) keeps to herself, drifting through her life in a constant state of quiet nervousness. Adele travels to the gothic home of her Aunt Dora (Susan Kellermann) to serve as a caregiver for the aging, agoraphobic woman. It doesn’t make for a very pleasurable experience: Aunt Dora refuses to leave her locked bedroom and is prone to barking orders and insults at Adele through the keyhole. Lonely and melancholy, everything changes for Adele when she meets Beth (Quinn Shephard). A dark contrast to Adele’s light, Beth is mysterious and sexy, and soon the girls are developing a friendship and possibly something more.
A.D. Calvo’s haunting, slow-burn Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl chronicles this story with an exquisite attention to gothic detail, recalling low-key chillers like Burnt Offerings and The Changeling, mixed with the gothic family melodrama of a V.C. Andrews paperback. Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl is creepy in a subtle, almost pleasant way. It’s like slipping into a comfy-yet-chilling sweater. The film moves languidly, never rushing to get to a destination, instead letting things build.
Much of the film’s heavy lifting of the film falls to Erin Wilhelmi, and the actress acquits herself wonderfully. Wilhelmi has a young Sissy Spacek quality to her, and she approaches the film with a wide-eyed grace. She’s matched by Quinn Shephard, who brings just the right amount of mysterious charm to her character. The two actresses share a believable rapport with one another that serves to heighten the psychological drama when the story takes a turn.
Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl works its way under your skin as it drifts along. Anyone expecting an outright horror film overloaded with jump-scares and musical stings will be disappointed. Instead, this film prefers to play with your expectations, and unsettle your thoughts. At times it runs the risk of dipping into style-over-substance territory, but overall there’s enough psychological chills at work in this gothic horror-drama to thrill.