Follow TV Tropes


Film / Single White Female

Go To

A 1992 suspense/horror film directed by Barbet Schroeder based on the novel "SWF Seeks Same" by John Lutz.

After breaking up with her boyfriend, Allie (Bridget Fonda) gets a new roommate, Hedy (Jennifer Jason Leigh). They become the best of friends. Then things start to get weird. Like when Hedy gets the same haircut as Allie. This is not going to end well.

In 2005, a straight to DVD sequel titled Single White Female 2: The Psycho was released. Only the basic premise of a killer roommate is the same with none of the characters from the original film appearing.

In 2009, a spin-off titled Single Black Female was released. Like Single White Female 2, the basic premise is the only thing it has in common with the original. No characters from the original film appear.


This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Title Change: The movie's title is a variation on the novel's original name SWF Seeks Same.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Hedy, despite being an Ax-Crazy murderer, is portrayed as a tragic victim of her psychosis and past trauma. Allie feels remorseful about killing her in self-defense, having wanted her to get whatever help she needed, and resolves to try to forgive her despite everything, since she realises Hedy went crazy because she couldn't let go of her sister's death.
  • Alliterative Name: Mitchell Myerson.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Allie realizes that Hedy killed Sam when she watches the news on TV. Unfortunately, she is then alone with her in her apartment.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Hedy who becomes obsessed with Allie. Wanting to be closer to her, borrowing her clothes, and even changing her hair to match hers.
  • Advertisement:
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Double-Subverted. Hedy tells Allie that her twin was stillborn; later Allie discovers a picture of seven year old twin girls and realizes this was a lie. However, the film's epilogue reveals that Hedy's twin drowned when they were little girls and Hedy was mentally ill from then on.
  • Asshole Victim: Mitchell is shot by Hedy, though he had tried to rape Allie earlier in the film, so his death is hardly mourned.
  • Attempted Rape: Disturbingly attempted by Mitchell on Allie, but she manages to get out of it by giving him a vicious and well deserved punch to the balls.
  • Ax-Crazy: Hedy is not only murderous but also very obviously mentally unwell. In the final half hour she starts almost regressing to a child-like mindset, crying out that she's scared and screaming Allie's name, despite being deadset on killing her.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Hedy kicks the puppy when she is left alone. Later, she even throws it out of the window.
  • Bed Trick: Sam wakes up to who he thinks is Allie pleasuring him and is stunned to realize that it's Hedy.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Hedy, as it becomes increasingly clear to Allie that she's dealing with an Ax-Crazy murderess.
  • Bound and Gagged: Allie, at the hands of Hedy once she decides to take control of their relationship.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Hedy, to say the least. She starts off being weirdly possessive Allie, particularly by sabotaging her and Sam's attempts to reconcile, before she goes completely off the deep end.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Allie turns the TV on. The news report gives her just enough information to understand that Hedy killed Sam.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: Hedy says this while she searches for Allie. Darkly, her mental illness leads her to beg and say she's scared in addition to her taunting.
  • Death of a Child: Hedy's twin. At first she tells Allie that her sister was stillborn. Turns out she wasn't, but she did drown as a little girl, leaving Hedy devastated.
  • Dies Wide Open: Hedy dies after being stabbed with a screwdriver by Allie, her eyes still open. Allie reaches down and draws them shut.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: What Hedy does to Sam is rape: she tricks him into thinking that she's Allie, and when he realizes she isn't halfway through the act he tries to put a stop to it, but it's too late. The movie does show it to be an awful thing, but it's treated more as a crime against Allie, not Sam: another of Hedy's twisted attempts to steal Allie's life, by stealing her boyfriend. The fact that Sam is clearly feeling angry and violated by it isn't really addressed.
  • Eye Scream: When Hedy tricks Sam into infidelity by having sex with him (knowing Sam would mistake her for Allie), Sam decides to tell Allie which leads into struggle between him and Hedy. Hedy then accidentally stabs Sam in the eye with her stiletto heel, killing him instantly.
  • Fanservice: Both Allie and Hedy spend quite a lot of the film naked.
  • Fan Disservice: Hedy performing unwelcomed oral sex on Sam. It starts out very hot at first, as Sam thinks it’s Allie before Hedy lifts her head up to reveal herself. This freaks Sam out and he attempts to stop it, but unfortunately, he's too close to orgasming by that point. Sam’s disgusted look afterwards says it all and the audience agrees.
  • The Film of the Book: Based on the 1990 novel SWF Seeks Same by John Lutz.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Despite being a presumably well paid computer programmer, Allie can't afford the rent on her own, which is why she's looking for a roommate. So she takes in Hedy... who works at a bookstore. It's unlikely she's making the salary necessary to afford her portion of the rent.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Hedy and Allie become friends. Hedy does everything she can to prevent Allie from making up with Sam. When Allie resumes her relationship with Sam, Hedy gets really angry and finally she even kills him.
  • Groin Attack: By Allie on Mitchell when he tries to rape her.
  • I Just Want to Be You: Hedy at first wants to be like Allie's twin (to compensate for the twin sister she lost), but as that doesn't work out, she takes the next best option: become Allie.
  • I Never Got Any Letters: Sam mentions having sent a letter of apology to Allie, which she says she never got. She later finds it among Hedy's things.
  • Kick the Dog: Hedy literally kicks the dog she adopted earlier, establishing that she only views it as a tool to get closer to Allie. Later she takes it a step further when she apparently tosses it out the window.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Hedy tormenting and killing Allie's creepy rapist client Mitchell. Her killing of Sam might arguably count as well, depending on how you view Sam.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The prologue shows Hedy and her twin sister when they were children.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: A non-romantic version, since Hedy is not explicitly lesbian. Hedy kills Allie's boyfriend, Sam. It's actually an accident, though Hedy doesn't really feel bad about it afterward.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: During their final confrontation, Allie tells Hedy: "I'm not like your sister, Hedy. Not anymore. I'm like you now."
  • Oh, Crap!: Allie's reaction when Hedy reveals her identical haircut. She's been slowly but surely getting weirded out by Hedy's behavior, but the hairstyle finally tips her off to how dangerous the situation is becoming.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Inverted. Allie has finally realized the extent of Hedy's depravity when she realizes that she's killed her boyfriend and is desperate to get out of the apartment without arousing Hedy's suspicions. So she hurriedly claims that her neighbor Graham called and asked her to stop by. Unfortunately, Hedy killed Graham as well (actually, he was just unconscious, but she didn't know that) and not only knows that Allie's lying, but realizes that Allie has probably figured out everything else as well.
  • The Peeping Tom: Allie, ironically. She catches a glimpse of Hedy masturbating and stands there watching for some time. Not until the puppy whimpers and Hedy sits up and almost catches her does she snap out of it.
  • Playing Possum: Allie does this when Hedy strangles her (she might very well have been genuinely unconscious) to give herself a chance to fight back—when Hedy leaves her body to go and prepare the incinerator, Allie gets up and hides.
  • Plot-Inciting Infidelity: The story starts when Allie discovers that Sam cheated on her. This prompts her to break up with him and then to look for a roommate to share the rent of her apartment.
  • Psycho Lesbian: A possible explanation for Hedy's behaviour is an attraction to Allie; regardless she plays the "Pyscho" part to a T.
  • Replacement Goldfish: It's heavily hinted that Hedy is trying to recapture her relationship with her sister, with Allie taking the place of her twin.
  • Retargeted Lust: It's possible that Hedy is thinking of Allie, or Sam, or both while she touches herself.
  • Right Through the Wall: In the beginning, Allie and Sam are making love and Graham can hear the noise through the air vent.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: The slew of potential new roommates Allie considers, though the last girl is fine. Indeed, Allie was calling her to tell her she was her choice before Hedy walked in.
  • Tragic Villain: Hedy is clearly deeply disturbed, enough to actually make her somewhat sympathetic despite the terrible things she does.
  • Villainous Rescue: Mitch, who tried to rape Allie earlier in the film, tries to save her from Hedy (if only because he stands to lose a lot of money if she dies).
  • Where Were You Last Night?: After Allie reconciles with her fiance, Sam, and spends the night with him, she comes home to a distraught Hedy sitting in the dark, who then prompts the question "Where the hell have you been?"
  • Yandere: Hedy towards Allie, possibly in a non-romantic sense. She's psychotically and violently obsessed with Allie, but it's unclear whether she's in love with her.
  • You're Insane!: Sam's reaction when Hedy performs oral sex on him in an attempt to blackmail him away from Allie.
    Sam: You're nuts, you know that? I think you're out of your skull.