Director Jon Knautz, returns once again to disturb audiences, with his latest creation, using a script that he co-wrote with Alexis Kendra (Goddess of Love ), that’ll have both male and female viewers squirming in their seats as tension builds in this exquisite horror thriller. Those unfamiliar with Knautz, his previous films consist of gothic horror found in The Shrine (2010) and Girl House (2014), a female dominated movie, with slasher intensions carving up the background, both serve as a wonderful foundation for The Cleaning Lady. One interesting fact about this movie, it actually was a short movie of 10-minutes in length, proving that one can make their short-flicks into full-length features. Nevertheless, the film focuses its attention to women, working and personal relationships, various abuses while exploring social class and troublesome situations that conjure delicious horror tropes and received distribution from RLJE Films.
The overall story involves Alice (co-writer Alexis Kendra), who lives a strange troublesome life, she’s engaging in affairs with married men, in the past they kept her quiet with expensive gifts, a spacious home and all her needs but one met, that is true love. Her current love is Michael (Stelio Savante), she doesn’t want to leave him, and he’s not planning on leaving his wife, aside from that she lacks solid friendship skills, hence enters Shelly (Rachel Alig), a woman from poverty with facial burns and a dark part from her childhood. The past that shows the pain and suffering, another imbalance of power between child to mother, the honoring of a parents wants, the scenes reminded me of Jason Stoddard’s The Afflicted (2011). Shelley welcomes Alice’s friendship, but is highly guarded of her true intentions, and hence entering a deeper psychological thriller, Alice learns quickly of Shelley’s concepts on love, power and control, but at what price, her character appears a tad naïve, thinking her scars are merely from an accident, but never truly listening or understanding not everyone has a painless youth. While the film starts slow, it clearly shows how childhood torments can scar and damage the mind, creating a disturbed woman, the audience likely to have a stomach-turning moment and later the traditional horror of gore erupts wonderful with stylish creativity. The final act establishes, a good twist, something one needs to admit, didn’t seeing coming, it hits one blindsided, then leave the jump scares for James Wan flicks, and bring the torture.
Many comparisons to film, fall to merely labeling a product leftover of the 90s unhinged women, exacting revenge, Misery (1990) and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992). However, this movie goes much further as it contains wonderful cinematography from Joshua Allen who worked previously with Knautz on Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007) and capturing a selection of crisp colors that pop wonderfully on screen. The script gives the viewers intelligent thought provoking characters, in scenes lacking dialogue the observations of their actions grows the actresses, these women show their talents, it all shows that a good screenplay can produce phenomenal qualities that transcend the mediocrity often found in the horror genre.
Finally, an original conceptual design that pits to strong female leads against each other, and working through the careful balances that everyone faces in life, though perhaps not to the extreme degree of Shelly. I enjoyed how the film gave us a believable character, grotesque scenes, a bit of slasher thrown in for good measure, and it stirs together for unleashing a Monster born from the lack of civility and present to destroy humanity in a vivid manner.
IMDb Rating: 5.4/10
Baron’s Rating: 5.5/10