Terror has a new face in this thriller that can be described as an amped up version of the film Single White Female that proves to be more sinister.
Alice is a make up consultant who has a thriving business. She lives in a very nice apartment and has a steady boyfriend, Michael. The problem is that Michael is married and for a long time, she has been looking to end her relationship to respect Michael’s family. Despite going to therapy, she cannot seem to break from Michael, who promises her a vacation to Italy. One day, Alice has an issue with a clog in her sink. When she arrives home, she finds the cleaning lady, Shelly, being able to solve the problem.
Alice offers Shelly $100 to clean her house two days a week. The two soon forge a bond of friendship when Alice sees Shelly as a means to break away from Michael. When Alice begins to confide in Shelly about her relationship with Michael, Shelly soon becomes obsessed with not only being like Alice on the outside, but she becomes determined to ensure that Michael is out of the picture. When Alice finds herself succumbing to Michael’s charm again, Shelly will do the unthinkable to make sure her friend goes in the right direction.
This thriller directed by Jon Knautz takes the plot of a new best friend’s obsession and adds quite a few twists and turns that pan out as to why this obsession becomes apparent. However, where films like Single White Female has the distinction of having the “new best friend” act as the protagonist in terms of living the life she desires, this film goes quite a different route and the reason it works is because the first two acts are well-paced with some slow-moving tension until the final act grabs you by the throat.
Co-writer and lead star Alexis Kendra does quite well as Alice, who may seem to have it all, but is a very flawed person. The positive involves her thriving business and her apartment. However, she just can’t seem to shake off her relationship with the married Michael, played by Stelio Savante. Michael, in some ways, is a creep who just thinks he doesn’t have to take no for an answer. When Alice goes to great lengths to break away from him, Michael attempts to win her back through gifts and even goes as far as attempting to stalk her.
However, if there is one star who can truly break out in this film, it’s the titular “cleaning lady” herself, Shelly. Rachel Alig, sporting make up that makes her unrecognizable, plays the quiet woman who enters Alice’s life. Not one to really talk, Shelly just seems like the type who may seem more scared at first, but we soon learn there is more to Shelly than we all think. Even flashbacks that show how Shelly got permanently scarred comes in the cringeworthy fashion and it is because of this, one can’t blame Shelly for her actions and even though she attempts to want to help Alice by any means necessary, the third act will still question whether Shelly is actually a bad woman or someone we can feel empathy towards.
The Cleaning Lady is quite a thriller that steadily brings some tension until the final half hour, where it grabs you by the throat with some great performances notably by Alexis Kendra and Rachel Alig.
WFG RATING: B
RLJE Films presents an Olivargo production. Director: Jon Knautz. Producers: Jon Knautz and Alexis Kendra. Writers: Jon Knautz and Alexis Kendra. Cinematography: Joshua Allen. Editing: Matthew Brulotte.
Cast: Alexis Kendra, Stelio Savante, Rachel Alig, Elizabeth Sandy, Mykayla Sohn, JoAnne McGrath, Keri Marrone, Robert Hugh Starr, Carla Wynn, Kim Marie Cooper.