I saw this movie on a teenage date, in a theater filled with other young people and I remember that when the scene came up when Allison (Bridget Fonda) accidentally watched Hedra (Jennifer Jason Leigh) masturbating on her bed, everyone was laughing at the awkward nature of this scene. But I think about this moment a lot. And not for prurient reasons. It’s because Allison is discovering not only that the person who has taken over life is taking over even her own bed, it’s that Hedra is more secure in her own sexuality and womanhood when she takes over Allison’s persona than Allison herself is.
Director Barbet Schroeder worked in the thriller genre quite often, which is the western way of saying that he made gialli that didn’t have as much sex or style. Single White Female is the exception.
Allison has just left her philandering boyfriend and is looking for a roommate when Hedra arrives. She lost her twin in the womb and as such, she’s been seeking her twin ever since. Allison seems to be that person until her lover comes back, which leads to Hedy acting out by launching a dog to its doom (which nearly makes this a slasher; why do slasher killers always take out innocent dogs? Talk about cheap heat…).
There’s an astounding moment in this film when after Hedy gets a makeover to look exactly like Allison, she tricks her way into going down on Allison’s boyfriend. He tries to stop her when he realizes that she isn’t who she thought she was, but then she does what very few female villains do: she assaults him, robbing him of his agency and when he complains, she penetrates his eye and brain with her stiletto heel. Somewhere, Fulci is clapping like a wildman.
I always thought that it was strange that to show how off-kilter Hedy is, they show her dancing at The Vault and participating in BDSM. Oh, she must be insane if she likes pleasure!
Other than that, this movie moves toward an interesting conclusion with a tacked-on square up reel that test audiences demanded. Ah well.