The Cleaning Lady (2018)
'The Cleaning Lady' very much feels like a film of two halves. The first two thirds of this film are very heavily story driven, relying on the audience investment of its two female leads. What starts out as a relationship built on companion and empathy soon escalated to one fueled by obsession and resentment. And whilst this makes for an interesting watch, it causes issues with its pacing early on by developing these characters much more than necessary. Things take a more by-the-numbers style slasher tone in the last third and this is a jarring change of pace in comparison to everything that has come before it. Both leads, Alice, played by Alexis Kendra and Shelly, played by Rachel Alig, carry this film through to the end. Together, they provide some of the most genuine and authentic performances I have seen from a low budget horror in some time. Alig gives an exceptionally creepy performance. Her mannerisms and overall motion as she glides from one place to the next is enough to know to keep well away from this woman. Add to that some great makeup work to display the burn scars on her face and you have one terrifying lead antagonist. The cinematography and direction is a mixed bag, with moments of exceptional camera work and beautifully framed shots, combined with some of the more amateur element you would commonly find with a production of this standard. It is these made for TV moments, if you will, that pull you out of the film from time to time, only to reaffirm the realisation of this being a low budget production. Overall though (for what it is) this film looks great. Utilising fantastic practical effects and makeup work in key moments and having a very well crafted score and sound design throughout. The biggest disappointment comes from the ending, feeling rather unfulfilling considering that everything had been so strong up until the closing moments. I think that when you develop such an interesting and compelling story, it's imperative that you provide a satisfying conclusion to avoid running the risk of undermining everything that had come before it. Unfortunately, 'The Cleaning Lady' does not provide a conclusive end to its story, leaving me with more questions than answers.