Follow TV Tropes


Film / Single White Female

Go To

A 1992 suspense/horror film 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:

  • 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.
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: We learn that Hedy is one of these, both from the story that she tells Allie—that her twin was stillborn—and when Allie discovers a picture of seven year old twin girls and realizes this was a lie. During the film's epilogue, we learn that in reality, Hedy's twin drowned when they were little girls and Hedy has been mentally ill ever since.
  • Asshole Victim: Mitchell is shot by Hedy, but the audience should not feel sorry for him, because he tried to rape Allie earlier in the film.
  • Ax-Crazy: Hedy.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Hedy kicks the puppy when she is left alone. Later, she even throws it out of the window.
  • Advertisement:
  • 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, again.
  • Bound and Gagged: Allie, twice.
  • Cat Fight: Between Allie and Hedy towards the climax.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Allie has one of these even before Hedy starts showing signs of going 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 while she searches for Allie.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Hedy's shoebox.
    • The Creepy Basement and its furnace room.
    • The elevator's screwdriver.
    • The fact that people can hear things via the air vent—it's how Graham knows that Allie and Sam have broken up, it's how Hedy knows that Allie is on to her, and it's inverted when Allie tapes the vent up because Graham has warned her that he can hear her and her boyfriend Sam having sex. Unfortunately, this leaves her unable to hear anything as Hedy bludgeons Graham.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Allie installs backups into her computer programs to ensure her clients don't screw her financially.
  • Creepy Basement: Allie even says she's scared to go there during the night.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Allie catches a glimpse of Hedy doing this and for some inexplicable reason seems freaked out by it.
  • Death by Adaptation: Hedy and Mitchell.
  • Death of a Child: The puppy and Hedy's twin, though she died offscreen long before the story proper.
  • Disney Death: Graham.
  • 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 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.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: For (part of) the big fight climax between Allie and Hedy.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Mitchell gets the briefest one of these when he tries to rescue Allie from the deranged Hedy, only to get a bullet put in head for his trouble.
    • Very debatable...he didn't actually attempt to untie Allie and actually seemed pleased that he had her alone and tied up, and considering that he had tried to rape her in the workplace earlier....
  • 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: More like throw it out of the window.
    • Though Hedy does also kick it at one point.
  • 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.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Hedy, moreso in the original novel than in the film.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The prologue shows Hedy and her twin sister when they were children.
  • Mercy Kill: By the end of the film Hedy is so fucked up mentally that it's hard not to see her death as better for her than living.
    • Though the voiceover in the last scene was Allie's, the shot was apparently meant to be ambiguous as to just who was in the apartment there. Hedy might be Not Quite Dead...
  • 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: During their final confrontation, Allie tells Hedy: "I'm not like your sister, Hedy. Not anymore. I'm like you now."
  • Oh, Crap!/You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: 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.
  • 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: Possibly Hedy. Does she want to be Allie, or be with her, or both?
  • Replacement Goldfish: Hedy is looking for this regarding her sister.
  • Right Through the Wall: In the beginning, Allie and Sam are making love and Graham can hear the noise through the air vent.
  • Slasher Smile: Boy, can Jennifer Jason Leigh emote.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Graham Knox.
  • Spiritual Successor: Apartment Zero GENDER SWAPPED!
  • Survivor Guilt: How Hedy felt after the death of her sister.
  • Tempting Fate: Mitchell states that he's taken care of Hedy. Guess what happens to him.
  • 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 Breakdown: Hedy inevitably gets one towards the end.
  • 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?"
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Hedy.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Sam gets caught cheating when his ex-wife calls both his and Allie's apartment and announces that they slept together via answering machine.
  • 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.


Example of: