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Single White Female (Blu-ray Review)

On November 13th, Scream Factory Will be the Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh thriller Single White Female on Blu-ray. I’m really loving that Scream Factory is showing no fear and embracing the 1990s thriller and horror period of the first half of that decade. A part of the history that is famously looked down upon but really has some notable highs. This film in particular was a big hit and a notable piece of pop culture at the time. Scream Factory is giving it some love here on home video with a whole slew of brand new interviews and a commentary track to boot. Feel free to preorder yourself, and your obsessed roommate, a copy by clicking on the Amazon link to below, and relive this fun little suspense-driven thriller. 

Film 

Having recently split from fiancé Sam Rawson, Allison Jones welcomes new roommate Hedra Carlson. The young women quickly form a bond, but as Allison starts to rethink her engagement, Hedra grows jealous and hostile. As Allison learns new details about her roommate’s life, Hedra gets violent in her efforts to get Sam out of the picture. With Hedra turning more menacing by the minute, Allison finally understands what she’s up against in almost a twisted mirror image of her own self.

There have been a whole slew of the “psycho roommate/neighbor” movies throughout the years of cinema. Its a very Hitchcock kinda subgenre, though he never directly made one of the ilk (Shadow of a Doubt and Rear Window maybe fit some of the bill). It feels with every era, they’ve found a way to make said villain even a bit more creepy and more extreme. In 1992, during the beginning of the adult prestige horror boom coming in the wake of Silence of the Lambs, we were given Single White Female. A thriller that brought a modern working woman’s issues intermixed with the obsessed roommate.

Single White Female features two of the top actresses of that time sparring off at one another in some wonderful scene chewing fashion. I miss Bridget Fonda (Having retired from acting), as she was a bubbly and radiant presence that provided charisma with ease of the screen. She plays a more straight-laced character here, but is incredibly sympathetic. Jennifer Jason Leigh is a fantastic foil as the two actresses seemed like they probably auditioned for or were courted for many of the same parts in the 80s and 90s. She’s vicious, but hauntingly real. Plus she brought a character that was highly memorable during the era. Everyone can recall or would poke fun at her getting the same haircut as Fonda during the second act of the film.

What this film really seemed to bring to the table that was new, was a more wicked sense of violence and sexuality. It had no fear in showing a little bit of gore or making you squeamish in your seat. And on the sexual end, it went right to it in, not holding back or just suggesting. It all comes to together in some subtly stylish ways. With this new Blu-ray, you can really see this movie has a very good eye. The visuals, lighting and camera work are very personal and have character to to them. I had only seen this movie on VHS back in the day and just remember it as sort of static. But this new Blu-ray was a sort of revelation into how expertly crafted this thriller really is.

In modern times, Single White Female still holds up very well. A lot of it may be a bit more pulpy than it was taken back in 1992, but it you could argue it was that way back then, too. Its headlined by two performers in top form and managing to tackle on some real life horrors of being a woman in the work place and alone in a big city that’s ready to take advantage of you ON TOP of having a psycho roommate messing up your life. I’m excited that Scream Factory selected this to release as it was a fun to revisit and appreciate again.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: There are no details on the transfer of Single White Female provided with the disc or in the press release, but this is some great work they’ve done here. It retains its grain and has a very detailed, sharp and crisp transfer. I feel like they’d boast if it was 4K, but it honestly feels like one. The color saturation, details and depth all look up to par and impressive here in the frame. I’m pretty thrilled with how this film looks in its Blu-ray debut.  And its a title I wasn’t expecting to wow with either. Well done, Scream Factory.

Depth:  Spacing is pretty impressive in the image. Depth of field is going to be much better than you’d expect going in. Camera movements and characters feel great separation and smooth cinematic motions with a good pushback on the backdrop.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and almost natural in their appearance. Shadows and dark rooms are a strength in the film’s effectiveness and they are well saturated and displayed here. Details hold up pretty good in the consumption of darkness.

Color Reproduction: Blue is the most prominent factor here, due to the heavy filtered scenes. Reds look pretty well too as well as yellows. The natural colors look bold and well rounded in this image.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. There are many blue filtered scenes in the film, so things go accordingly. Details like shower water traveling over skin, freckles, wrinkles, make-up, lip texture, moles and more come through clear as day.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Single White Female features a rock solid stereo track with a good balanced mix. Effects can be loud to good effect here. Mostly the film is driven by some solid vocals. The score plays as more a nice undercurrent with a few moments to take the spotlight. Sound track is good and accurate and while a 2.0 track, it does a nice job of filling the viewing space.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. This film hinges on them being the top thing in the mix and they are good, and loud, plenty discernible and able to carry it.

Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Barbet Schroeder, Editor Lee Percy and Associate Producer Susan Hoffman

Interview With Director Barbet Schroeder (HD, 27:20) – The director of Barfly and Reversal of Fortune talks about doing “definitely a studio movie” and his first of such. He mentions being pro-test screening and liking the ability to fix things late in the process to please his audience. We even get what he would have said had he won the Oscar for Reversal of Fortune. And of course he goes into the process and anecdotes of working on Single White Female as well.

Interview With Actor Peter Friedman (HD, 7:17) – The actor talks getting the role, being allergic to cats (He took cat dander during the shooting) and having to work with one and about the locations they shot at and his working relation with the rest of the cast.

Interview With Actor Steven Weber (HD, 19:41) – He believes having Wings on the air helped him to be a more attractive option as an “up and comer” for the film.  Weber mentions working with Dario Argento and that he had a very stereotypical Americanized version of an Italian accent and then launches into an impersonation of him. He goes over the preparations, work and analysis of his character.

Interview With Screenwriter Don Ross (HD, 25:41) – Ross talks his “radical” interpretation of the source material being a big sell that got him the job back in 1990. He goes over the tricks and challenges of adapting a book and trying to figure out which elements there are that make it a success and need to carry it over. Ross provides a method of adapting and “reading it hard” then never touching it again and writing your screenplay from that and how it applies to Single White Female.

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:04) 

Summary 

Single White Female holds up as a solid thriller in the creepy roommate/neighbor subgenre. Scream Factory has brought it back to life with a surprisingly terrific video transfer and supplied some fine interviews and a commentary to devour afterward. The current price tag ($29.99 at the time of writing this) is a bit steep, but another $10 down and I’d say its a pretty solid pickup.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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