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"Every year, for thirty days during the lunar seventh month, the Chinese believe that the gates of hell are thrown open. Vengeful spirits or hungry ghosts wander among the living, seeking revenge and justice before the gates of hell are closed again for another year." The eighteen years old Rosa Dimaano arrives in Singapore from Philippines to give support to her family working as a maid in the house of the artists of a Chinese opera troupe Mr. and Mrs. Teo on the first day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. She is welcomed by the family and introduced to their friends and their retarded son Ah-Soon. Later, Mrs. Teo advises her about their beliefs and how the dead should be respected and honored along the seventh month. However, Rosa sweeps their offer on the sidewalk breaking a basic rule and offending the spirits, and she is haunted by ghosts everywhere. When Ah-Soon calls her Esther Santos and she finds some belongings of the unknown Esther in the house, she discloses a ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A horror story about a maid in Singapore? We've heard quite a few, but in this one instead of a horrified Ma'am, it is the maid who is standing at the gates of hell. And unfortunately they are wide open.
Rosa Dimaano (Alessandra De Rossi) is a trusting, pretty Filipina orphan who comes to Singapore to see the world. But it is the start of the lunar seventh month, Hungry Ghost time, and the world is a place of confusing and jarring chaos. Ignorance is no protection and Rosa inevitably offends "something" and soon she is seeing ghosts and having nightmares. Her only happiness is playing with her employers' simple son, Ah Soon (Benny Soh), but to be honest this is hardly a relief as he is also really spooky.
Rosa's employers - a solitary chain smoking artist (Chen Shu Cheng) and an unpredictably tempered dressmaker (Hong Hui Fang) - live in a near derelict shophouse, cluttered with Wayang costumes, creaking cupboards and glowering pictures of the ancestors. Add a failing electricity supply, no telephone or TV and Rosa is absolutely alone in her misery. Or is she? From "The" Title to the twisting joints and/or heads of creepy kids, crawling long-haired wide-eyed zombies, blurring of identities, burnt photos, unprovoked suicides, the proliferation of grabbing-stalking-glaring-weeping-hanging ghosts and even the scorpions, this is a tribute to Asian horror. All the traditional, requisite and much loved scares are here and impossible to miss thanks to a heavy hand on the violin (think amplified Hitchcock).
Though regularly repetitive (especially by the nth explanation of the state of things during the seventh month) and disjointed, The Maid does not suffer from a lack of substance. No doubt this year we will all be more careful about kicking along the ash-ridden pavement and sitting in the front row of the Chinese opera.
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