'The Maid's Room': Film Review
Paula Garces plays a Colombian immigrant who goes to work at an estate in the Hamptons.
Two sluggish thrillers for the price of one, Michael Walker's The Maid's Room tells the story of an immigrant coping with an unsettling new job before swerving to focus on the self-inflicted woes of the woman's employers. Aiming for Hitchcockian suspense but coming closer to daytime drama, the film offers only occasional tension. And while it seems to think it has an interesting perspective on the socioeconomic dynamics of domestic work, few viewers who've seen any movie with a maid or butler character will agree. Unlikely to last long in limited theatrical release, the picture may fare slightly better on VOD.
Paula Garces plays Drina, a Colombian who finds work caring for a large Hamptons home during the summer. The owners (Bill Camp and Annabella Sciora) will be in the city most of the time, with just teenaged son Brandon (Philip Ettinger) staying behind for R&R before his freshman year of college. All early signs point to a stalker scenario, with the horny, privileged kid fixating on the lovely young maid. Instead, Drina soon learns that he has drunkenly hit and killed someone with his car, and must cope with pressure from the whole family to keep silent about the crime.
A pretty but obtrusive score by Arturo Rodriguez works hard to make us bite our nails as pressure from Brandon's parents intensifies, but the story's slack pacing prevents that. When Drina's crisis is resolved at the one-hour mark, viewers will likely be ready to leave; but what appears to be an epilogue is actually the start of a new chapter, with Brandon and his parents struggling to keep their felonious secrets from increasingly curious outsiders.
Given how unsympathetically the film portrays these rich narcissists in the first section, it's surprising Walker expects us to care about them now. They're certainly never developed into noir-worthy antiheroes whose desperation becomes compelling for its own sake, nor do a couple of scenes of Brandon's moody remorse convince us to take an interest in his future. Repeated references to an ant infestation remind us heavy-handedly of the guilt that comes with wealth and social advantage, as if that weren't the obvious subtext of even fairly innocent scenes throughout the film.
Production company: Dolly Hall Productions
Cast: Paula Garces, Philip Ettinger, Bill Camp, Annabella Sciorra
Director-Screenwriter: Michael Walker
Producer: Dolly Hall
Executive producer: Zachary Tucker
Director of photography: Scott Miller
Production designer: Amy Williams
Costume designer: Brenda Abbandandolo
Editor: Michael Taylor
Music: Arturo Rodriguez
No rating, 98 minutes