Genre : Horror-Thriller
Rating : Unrated
Director: Jon Knautz
First impressions are always important. It doesn’t matter if it is the first handshake at a job interview or the first note in a song, that first step can tell you everything you need to know. And when The Cleaning Lady opens with rats entering a blender you know director Jon Knautz is not here to play around.
Co-written by Knautz and Alexis Kendra, The Cleaning Lady is about beautician Alice (played by Kendra). Seeming to have the perfect life she is a recovering love addict she is looking to clean her life up after a lengthy affair with a married man. A chance encounter with the disfigured Shelly (Rachel Alig) leads to a fast friendship. But when Alice begins to confide her deepest secrets to Shelly their friendship takes a turn for the worst.
Now if the plot for The Cleaning Lady sounds familiar, you’re not wrong. Similar to Greta from earlier this year, Single White Female‘s DNA is embedded into The Cleaning Lady. Thankfully Knautz and Kendra did more than just a remake the 90’s cult classic. Leaning more towards the horror genre, The Cleaning Lady delivers on the scares. When Shelly is finally driven over the edge she delivers some of the more violent kills I’ve seen this year. Less about the gore itself (although things do get bloody) it’s the sheer brutality of them that made me cringe a couple of time. The attention to detail doesn’t end there either.
Wisely the two are able to infuse Alice and Shelly with the kind of depth you don’t typically see in this kind of thriller. By making Alice and Shelly so flawed it not only plays with the audiences expectations but makes us question where our sympathies lie. A big part of this are Alexis Kendra and Rachel Alig bringing Alice and Shelly to life.
As amazing as Alexis Kendra is as Alice I was particularly impressed with Rachel Alig’s portrayal of Shelly. Despite having fewer lines and the prosthetic makeup Alig is able to get across how broken Shelly is better than a monologue ever could. The way she slumps she slumps and mumbles one word answers can be absolutely heart breaking. At the same time Alig is able to give her an edge as the film goes on; turning seemingly innocent gestures into bone chilling brutality. And this is before we learn about how she was disfigured. A truly tragic villain, Alig is able to give her the complex performance this character needs.
If the film has any problems it is how oddly paced it is. Although paced well for the most part the final act feels rushed which really hurts the ending. Given I don’t think it needs to be as long as Avengers: Endgame but a few extra minutes could go a long way in helping The Cleaning Lady stick the landing.
Despite some pacing issues Jon Knautz and Alexis Kendra have made one of the scarier movies of the year. A terrifying take on a familiar story, The Cleaning Lady not only scares but gives an interesting look at codependency and toxic relationships. With two killer performances and real skill behind the camera The Cleaning Lady gives you a good reason to dust off your DVD player.
Links : IMDB
The Cleaning Lady is now in theaters and on VOD