An 18th century English cartographer, Jonathan Green, sets out on a journey to map the uncharted lands of Transylvania, only to discover the dark secrets and dangerous creatures hidden in a cursed, fantastical Ukrainian forest.
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Set entirely on the posh east end of Long Island (where it was filmed), THE MAID'S ROOM centers around Drina, an attractive, intelligent immigrant who takes a job for the season as live-in maid to the Crawfords, a privileged New York family who maintain a splendid home in the Hamptons. The job could be worse, since Mr. and Mrs. Crawford spend most of their time in the city, but their teenage son, Brandon, who is starting Princeton in the fall, is summering at the beach, and Drina must look after him and his spoiled friends. Since the maid's room is next to the garage, Drina can't help noticing when Brandon returns late one night, noisily and obviously drunk. The next day, she sees that Brandon's car is battered and bloodied and, when she reads in the local paper that there has been a fatal hit and run, it's clear who's responsible. Knowing the Crawford's will do anything to protect their precious son, Drina realizes that, for once, she has some power over her employers. Though the ... Written by
The Maid's Room has got to be one of the most confused thrillers I can remember seeing. It's got an almost nonsensical plot structure. Don't confuse that with "innovative" or "creative" --- no, the script for this film is a complete mess.
Michael Walker seems to be a bright guy with some very interesting ideas. His last film, "Price Check," took a lot of chances and turned the office rom-com genre on its head in the process. I didn't always love what he did with the storyline and characters in "Price Check", but it was logical and provoking, and the characters had depth enough to make intelligent decisions and retain your interest. Oh yeah, casting Parker Posey, an almost unsinkable talent, as his lead didn't hurt either.
Walker tries a similar stunt with the domestic thriller genre. His lead this time is the beguiling Paula Garces, who brings just the right tone to Drina, a young Columbian maid who the Crawfords (Bill Camp and Annabella Sciorra) hire to basically babysit and clean up after their coddled son at their Long Island mansion while they go back to NYC for the summer. Unfortunately, shortly after their departure, the son, Brandon (Phillip Ettinger), gets involved in an accident that appears a bit more serious than he lets on. When Drina finds blood on a sponge Brandon used to clean up, you can imagine the consequences for all involved, witnesses and otherwise.
Or can you? That's the thing about The Maid's Room...things don't exactly go as you'd predict. I'm ordinarily all for these types of out-of-the-box twists, but they fail in this case because the characters who are left holding the bag after this mid-film climax simply aren't worth watching (or well cast). From then on, this film is something of a schizophrenic freakshow, careening in tone from "Night of the Living Dead" territory to "Revenge of the Migrant Workers." What did Walker intend to do here, then? Ah, yes. That's the other big problem. I heard lots of bad press on this movie shortly after it opened mostly because it "demonized the filthy rich" and made them into "impossibly heartless baddies." Ehh, not really. I don't think any of the Crawford's actions (and far worse no doubt) are beyond the qualms of the upper class and those who aspire to their leagues. I didn't even think Bill Camp's constant pompous prattling about "what it takes to succeed" to his son were overblown. But do we really need constant shots of invading ants to hammer home the corruption of these upper crusters? It's lame symbolism, not to mention idiotic (hire an exterminator or buy a jug of vinegar, for god's sake).
The film simply tries overly hard to do all the wrong things. It's not artful or subtle enough to offer anything we don't already know about class conflict, the plight of immigrants, or the corruption of power. I'm sure some directors could pull it off, but they'd need a far more talented cast (apologies to Sciorra, who's great, but she's given nothing to do here but literally bitch).
The Maid's Room is a thriller and it needs to thrill. All it drew from me was a semi-bored, confounded stare.
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