The era of the Final Girl is coming to a close. Enter: the Lonely Girl. A subset of the far more popular Sad Girl, the Lonely Girl is a logical evolution of the Final Girl, combining monster and victim into the collective anxiety and guilt for those we leave behind but refuse to turn around for. The Lonely Girl isn’t new. She’s a well-worn trope, a canned victim for detective procedurals.
X-File’s season 3 episode “2shy” was aired exactly one year after my birth. I watched it for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Usually a sci-fi, alien and general space hater the pull of intergalactic ennui has finally caught up. Loneliness makes more sense if we’re not alone out there. But even the UFO show knows it can’t subsist on blurry sightings alone. It’s a monster of the week baby, strap in for a genetic mutant trying to survive.
A lonely-hearts killer takes to the Lonely Girl’s future habitat: the internet. Hold the broken, duct tape them into a pot roast sculpture, leave the materia prima as a promise to Sad Girls: indulge and die. By the end of the episode the killer is insisting it was a fair trade, a beam of desire for a steady pulse. I’ve seen enough supernatural and sci-fi procedural TV shows to know that the thing about monsters of the week is that they’ll throw in a good point here and there. These monsters are supposed to serve as stand ins for the worst of the worst in humans, but they often end up as accidental voices for the forgotten.
“The dead are no longer lonely.” Maybe it was worth it.
Some of the lonely hearts need to survive. Otherwise, we’d have to answer to their ghosts. So, make everyone a lonely heart. Download Tinder, make sure he’s not a serial killer, fail anyway and escape from his cannibalistic Esty store supply basement. The horror of Hulu’s Fresh was not the cannibalism, kidnapping or serial killing. It was that final ‘u up’? text. Nothing can replicate the immersive horror experience that is swiping on the dating apps.
This is how you filter out the Lonely Girls. Make them Tinderellas and see who can tough out the ridicule. Success makes you a survivor, failure the monster. Still fuckable tho. Always fuckable. Fuck her brains out. Fuck her sanity out. Fuck the monstrosity out. Make her a saint. Or fail, and she’ll make herself one.
I’ve been wanting to watch Saint Maude since I saw the trailer in theatres. Classically, the anticipation contributed to the spoiling. The cruelty also didn’t help. Newly god-fearing after a traumatic work experience, nurse Maude seeks to save her new patient. The homoerotic tension is palpable enough for the narrative to ridicule Maude about it. Lonely Girls become obsessive when their loneliness is ignored. The film even acknowledges it. An old coworker of Maude laments the way all the nurses dismissed her, knowing full well she was going through a shit time. It ended in several casualties.
The Lonely Girl sprouts up in a bland, nouveau “elevated” horror A24 film, of all places. Completely accidentally of course. The film’s supposed to be about the dangers of going too far, of being consumed by the thing that you’re begging to save you, if Letterboxd reviews are to be believed. Lonely Girl horror that isn’t subtle or metaphorized into oblivion would look like that mentally ill girl with social difficulties that you pretend to be friends with beating you up cause you were exceedingly cruel to her for social points. A new era of slashers to fuel your next moral panic.
A man called me a Sad Girl after sex once. Of course it’s true, it’s easy. Nowhere near a monster. Not yet. Sad Girls can be absolutely anything. A hero, a villain, a monster, a victim, a martyr, a trend, a style, a brand, a sure thing to come back to. Lonely Girls are mutants. Transformed by falling asleep during movies that man picks. It’s the only time she doesn’t collapse into exhaustion. The man must dismiss her feelings, she doesn’t know any better. Ingredient X. Lonely Girl is now monstrous. He will no longer fuck her.
Laura Andrea is a writer from Carolina, Puerto Rico. They hold an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. Her work can be found in Pussy Magic, The Rio Grande Review, Acentos Review, and Brave Voices Magazine, among others. She’s always looking for a good park to read, write, and divinate in. You can follow their day to day on Instagram & Twitter @lauranlora