Movie review: The Housemaid

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

If contemporary thrillers are recognized by their constant twists and cheap camera tricks, "The Housemaid" is a throwback to a more classic Hitchcockian style.

Writer/director Sang-soo Im isn't interested in merely startling his audience, but by building the tension as his protagonist - in this case title character Eun-yi (Do-yeon Jeon) - gets herself into trouble and has to try to get herself back out.

Fresh-faced Eun-yi is hired to work as a nanny for a wealthy family headed by Hoon (Jung-Jae Lee), and she spends most of her days with his pregnant wife Hae-ra (Seo Woo) and young daughter.

Her nights, however, become more illicit when Hoon shows up with a bottle of wine and some naughty thoughts. These encounters don't stay a secret for long, and when Hae-ra discovers the truth, Eun-yi's happy life takes a much darker turn.

Perhaps it's because the film plays like an old-fashioned thriller - it's based on a 1960 thriller of the same name - that it feels so fresh. It's full of eavesdropping, hushed conversations and questionable household accidents.

The picture does falter a bit, especially in surreal bookend scenes, but that's a minor quibble for a contemporary film that recreates the classic thriller formula in all the right ways.

The Housemaid

Opens Friday at the Gateway

3 1/2 stars out of 4