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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Review: The Cleaning Lady

Director: Jon Knautz
Screenplay: Alexis Kendra and Jon Knautz
Year: 2019

Synopsis: As a way of distracting herself from her love addictions, a woman befriends her cleaning lady, who is severely scarred by burns. Soon she discovers that the scars she carries are deeper than what is seen.

We have all heard at least once that saying that states that what is important is what is inside and not the exterior. Although this phrase is directed to value the virtues of people, it can also be used inversely. It is inversely how it fits like a ring to the finger to “The Cleaning Lady”, where we have a young woman which face is full of burn scars, but these are just the visible ones and the internal scars are much deeper than those in her face.

“The Cleaning Lady” starts with a scene that serves to alert the viewer, where it presents a character doing some alarming activities (involving rats and a blender) that are also ironic to the title of the movie. It is assumed that this character is Shelly, who does not need to be much time on screen to let us see that her behavior is really strange. Extremely introverted and without much social skills or sense of privacy, Shelly sends disturbing signals just by being on screen.

On the other hand, we have Alice, who is the complete opposite of Shelly. Alice is extroverted, dynamic, and physically gorgeous, but like Shelly, she has plenty of internal scars. These are represented through her “addictions”, as smoking and love. The love part is the most interesting, as Alice is involved in a relationship with a married man who she is unable to leave even when she is aware that their relationship would go nowhere.

The screenplay of Alexis Kendra and Jon Knautz is developed through the exploration of two characters, Alice and Shelly, who are completely opposed but who both carry powerful psychological burdens. This forces to deeply develop both characters, but the interesting story of both doesn’t allow this development to drop the tension or the rhythm of the movie. The horrifying story of Shelly’s childhood and how she becomes a psychologically unstable individual is a horror story on its own.

Besides how well-crafted the screenplay is, the acting is another important point in the development of the movie and the characters. Rachel Alig (“At Granny’s House”) does an excellent job as Shelly and her body language speaks in screams. Alexis Kendra (“Valentine’s Day”), who also worked on the screenplay, manages to represent well that contrast with Shelly and convincingly shows the emotional burden that leads her to make questionable decisions in her life.

“The Cleaning Lady” seeks to be more than just a simple horror movie and it achieves it. I really liked how complex psychological are mixed with others of uncomfortable visual violence. This movie does not look to feed of the usual horror movie clichés and looks for a deeper development to immerse the viewer in the story and to get it interested in all the characters and what happens with them. Shelly’s character is much more than a villain and you get to understand why she dices to not only clean her house but also clean Alice’s life. Even when her methods might seem a little extreme, they are undoubtedly effective.

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