Movie Review: “The Maid’s Room” Is Predictable And Tired

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Review by James McDonald

THE MAID’S ROOM is a psychological thriller that explores the complex relationships between truth and justice, hubris and power, wealth and fear.

With “The Maid’s Room”, director Michael Walker sets out to create a psychological suspense thriller but instead, delivers a conventional drama that trudges along at a snail’s pace only to end in an anti-climactic finale that you can see coming a mile away. The film tries desperately to chaperon far-superior movies such as “Cape Fear” and “Vertigo” and that is the movie’s biggest mistake. By all means, take ideas from other filmmakers, God knows they all steal from each other but don’t make it so blatantly obvious. Even composer Arturo Rodriguez is heavy-handed as we occasionally get an overly-dramatic “DUN DUN DUN” with a simple shadow or reflection in a mirror when a simple underscore would suffice.

Mr. & Mrs. Crawford (Bill Camp and Annabella Sciorra) and their son Brandon (Philip Ettinger) are a wealthy family who live in the posh east end of Long Island. As they interview many candidates for their housemaid position, they settle on Drina (Paula Garcés), a young and pretty woman from Colombia who can speak good English, a must-have for the Crawfords. While mom and dad are away, Brandon and his friends party in the pool but one night, he comes home drunk and quickly disappears into his bedroom. The next morning, as Drina is making her way through the garage, she notices some blood on the hood of the car and a broken headlight. Brandon claims to have hit a deer the night before and she thinks nothing more of it until Brandon’s parents arrive home earlier than expected.

Shortly thereafter, she reads in the newspaper that a young man was struck and killed in a hit-and-run and that the police are looking for the driver. She overhears the family in conversation and quickly realizes that Brandon obviously didn’t hit a deer but when Mrs. Crawford sees her standing by the door, she is quickly dismissed and then informed that they are letting her go, her services no longer required. They present to her a substantial severance package but when she talks about going to the police because it’s the right thing to do, they threaten to have her removed by INS as she is living in the U.S. illegally. They offer her $50,000 and ask her to sleep on it but when she tries to run away during the middle of the night, things get out of control and the family will never be the same again.

The overall production quality for the movie is top-notch, with some beautiful cinematography by Scott Miller. The acting, sadly, was not up to par, with many of the performances feeling forced, although Philip Ettinger as the guilt-ridden Brandon, exudes empathy and sympathy respectively, not an easy task to achieve. The beautiful Annabella Sciorra, so wonderful in “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” and “What Dreams May Come”, is sorely underused, entrusted to the ‘overprotective mother and long-suffering wife’ category. While the film’s lead, Paula Garcés as the maid, is very pretty and alluring, unfortunately, she doesn’t have the acting chops to pull off such an emotional and poignant role. And that’s a shame because as the titular character, the whole story revolves around her and if we don’t believe in her emotions and her agendas, then the movie has already failed.

In select theaters August 8th in N.Y. and L.A. and on VOD

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James McDonald
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