Like POISON IVY earlier in the summer, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE (released August 14, 1992) is a quintessential, much-imitated suspense thriller of the specific type that reigned in the ‘90s. I rented it on VHS back in the day and I believe I liked it, but I have to admit to thinking of this type of thriller as pretty interchangeable and disposable. Watching it now I can see that this is one of the best of its type.
There are many factors to that. Director Barbet Schroeder (BARFLY) creates a tense and atmospheric slow burn of a character piece. The script by first-timer Don Roos (adapted from a book by John Lutz) nicely establishes layered characters in an uncomfortable scenario, plus numerous details to the apartment building setting that you just know will become relevant late in the movie when violence is afoot. And it looks great – credit to cinematographer Luciano Tovoli (SUSPIRIA, TITUS) and production designer Milena Canonero (also the costume designer, as she was for BARRY LYNDON, TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM, DICK TRACY, THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU, OCEAN’S TWELVE, MARIE ANTOINETTE – man, that’s a resume!). The score by Cronenberg’s guy Howard Shore is certainly a big part of setting the eerie mood. And I don’t really know how to measure it but I gotta assume the editing is crucial to the suspense, so I want to mention that editor Lee Percy comes out of the world of exploitation – he was the scamp who bastardized LONE WOLF AND CUB into SHOGUN ASSASSIN, and he did THE KILLING OF AMERICA, THEY CALL ME BRUCE, RE-ANIMATOR, TROLL, FROM BEYOND and DOLLS. Also BLUE STEEL. (read the rest of this shit…)