The Maid (Kimyo na sakasu) (2005)

Supernatural horror from Singapore.
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The Maid - Supernatural Horror from Singapore

Kelvin Tong's The Maid (Kimyo na sakasu) is a fairly typical J-Horror (despite being Singaporean) for the best part, but takes on a fairly disturbing twist as the story closes. Relying on an eerie atmosphere and Singaporean superstitions rather than an abundance of guts, The Maid manages to create a more disturbing and dark feel than is usual within the genre and although there is nothing original about the story's execution, the story's motivations are quite disconcerting. The characters represent a different side of society with the poorer members of the community taking centre stage rather than the middle class student-types often portrayed in similar movies. There are typical tension build-ups to a shocking scene but combined with a more relentless portrayal of the bleakness of the whole situation, the movie takes on a very isolated feel. The plot implementation leaves the viewer with a thought provoking experience and the quick fire and rapidly executed climax is more reminiscent of the more serious slashers coming out of the US in the eighties.

18 year old Rosa Dimaano arrives in Singapore, leaving her family including her sick brother behind in the Philippines, to work as a maid for Mr. and Mrs. Teo who run a local Chinese Teochew dialect opera. Rosa desperately needs money to upkeep her brothers health and is willing to cope with the families slight eccentricities to keep the cash flowing, her new employers seem kind enough and their disabled son Ah-Soon takes a shine to Rosa.

To illustrate the saying "to be in the wrong place at the wrong time" and as a lesson in researching your new home before you move in, Rosa has just happened to arrive in Singapore on the first day of the lunar seventh month. It is in this month that the Chinese believe that the gates of hell open for thirty days and vengeful spirits roam amongst the living to be vengeful and spirit-like. Rosa is warned to respect the dead in this month but naively sweeps an offering to the dead into the road and seems to upset some of those more at home in hell.

The before unnoticed supernatural part of Rosa' life becomes more and more prominent as she is haunted by the dead but this is nothing compared to what the Teo's have in store for her future as she discovers that Ah-Soon's innocent kindness is a more of a sinister infatuation and her employers are wiling to go to extraordinary lengths to grant their son's dying wish.

The Maid takes a common Japanese formula and applies a splash of Singapore which gives the movie a wholly different feel and this makes director Kelvin Tong's work stand out from the crowd by providing a different experience. Special effects are sparse but part of the charm of this movie is that for the majority of the time it is a believable scenario, considering the highly superstitious nature of the culture represented. The ending is quite unpredictable and therefore it is quite a shocker and although this is the part where the movie definitely leaves the realms of reality, it is here that the movie becomes a fully fledged horror rather than a twisted psychological thriller. The story falls nicely into place and inspires reflection on some of the previous and seemingly out of place scenes and explains why they were not out of place in the slightest. The movie provides a disturbing insight into a superstitious society and the evils that such beliefs can manifest. More than simple entertainment, The Maid is definitely a movie that requires multiple viewings, and with a different insight the second time around the whole movie has a different perspective making a whole new horror journey for the viewer.
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Categories: Asian Horror Movies

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