Reviewed by: JimmyO
Alessandra De Rossi
What's it about
A young woman moves to Singapore to work as a maid for a middle-aged Chinese couple with a mentally disabled son. She soon realizes that she is just in time for the “gates of hell” to open and the ghosts of the dead are waiting for her. Cue creepy music!
Is it good movie?
The main problem with The Maid is the complete lack of originality. Part The Sixth Sense, part Ju-On, this movie continues with the ghost trend that so often comes out of the Far East. Yet it still works. The story is simple; a young woman, Rosa Dimaano (Alessandra De Rossi) is a stranger in a strange land when she moves to Singapore to work as a maid to Mr. and Mrs. Teo (Shucheng Chen and Huifang Hong). When she first arrives, the couple warns her that she has arrived on the eve of the “hungry ghost month”. On the first day of the seventh month, the Chinese believe that the gates of hell shall open and spirits shall walk with the living. At first, she seems more worried about being alone away from her family, including her sick young brother. Soon, she begins to see the “hungry ghosts”, it seems that she may have offended them in someway and she realizes they are all around her. There are several creepy moments where the ghosts show themselves to Rosa, particularly when she watches a Chinese theatre performance. Although they are mostly “boo” scares, there is something genuinely creepy about these ghosts; particularly the one that seems to haunt her for a very specific reason. One reason this works is because Rosa has nobody to speak to, aside from the Teo’s mentally disabled son who has taken a shine to her.
Yes, the story is nothing new but Ms. De Rossi is very good as Rosa. She plays it with subtlety and feels genuine in the role. The other factor that makes this film work is the wonderful direction by Kelvin Tang. His camera is always slightly lowered or raised high above the actors’ heads. He has a good eye, and with the help of a good cinematographer, Lucas Jodoigne, he creates a moody and mysterious piece. The cold and dark colors he uses (grayish-greens and blues) make Singapore look like a very dark place. It’s a place where shadows are filled with the ghosts who have come out for these thirty days. Atmosphere can sometimes be the key factor for making a scary movie. And Mr. Tang understands that; the set design, the cinematography all work wonders letting the audience into Rosa’s world as she struggles to understand the darkness around her. I also appreciated the fact that the dialogue spoken by Rosa is English. It reinforces the idea that she is lost in this city. Again, all of these elements have worked in other, similar films. But Mr. Tang gives it a fresh and spooky look while creating a pretty damn spooky ghost story.
Video / Audio
The Maid creates a wicked world with some beautiful direction in this atmospheric tale of the supernatural. By doing so, he achieves a good amount of “boo” scares that actually work. But most importantly he helps keep the loneliness of his leading lady very apparent and quite creepy. And as Rosa, Alessandra De Rossi gives a very natural performance as the woman haunted by the “hungry ghosts”. Not an original bone in its body but it is still a creepy little ghost story and worth a look.