South Korean writer-director Im Sang-so boldly set out to remake what is widely considered among his nation’s greatest films of all time, "The Housemaid," and to his credit, he makes it work magnificently.
Jeon Do-yeon stars as Eun-yi, a young woman hired to serve as au pair to Hae Ra (Seo Woo), the extremely pregnant--with twins--wife of a fantastically wealthy man, Hoon Goh. What unfolds is something like what you would get if Alfred Hitchcock had directed the best damn episode ever of “Dynasty.”
One weekend Hoon appears at Eun-yi‘s bedside in his underwear, brandishing a bottle of wine. Do-yeon plays the moment to near perfection, her faced flickering between horror, confusion and arousal. She never seems sure what she is supposed to do. And when she finally reaches to disrobe him, she's still not sure if she’s doing the right thing. A similar scene plays out a few days later and soon enough, the housemaid is pregnant, too.
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In short order, it seems everyone knows Eun-yi’s pregnant, even before she herself does. And from there it’s not so much a whodunit, as a whose-gonna-do-it-and-how. Because clearly, she needs to be out of the house, one ominous way or another.
Sang-so makes full use of the mansion’s long hallways, high ceilings and labyrinthine layout, inducing vertigo, disorientation or confusion as befits the moment. And he never goes for the cheap scare, there are no bogeyman leaping out from around dark corners. The tension builds slowly, periodically letting off some steam with a nervous laugh.
Great acting, top-notch camera work and not one, but two amazing endings, make “The Housemaid” a great white-knuckle ride.
The Housemaid is in Korean with English subtitles, the film is unrated, but there is nudity, sex and violence