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I have a lot of respect for filmmakers who try to do something interesting or new, even if it doesn't 100% work. Jennifer Harrington's Housekeeping is certainly a different approach to the thriller genre, and aside from a few minor issues it works very well.
Lucy (Adriana Solis) is a med student, bright, determined and driven. She's been taking care of her younger brother Sal (Carlos Foglia) since their mother died in a tragic fire. Their mother was a maid for a wealthy family, and others died in the fire as well, though Lucy managed to save Sal. He never got his life together like his big sister, though. In and out of trouble, Lucy always bails him out. This time he's deep in debt to some very unsavory characters, and she doesn't have the money to pay off the debt. She needs to make some cash quick.
Lucy's friend Denise (Monica Percich) has an acquaintance who needs someone to do some housekeeping for a few weeks, and is willing to pay big money. Lucy resists at first, having bad memories of her mother's time as a domestic, but finally has to give in when all her other options dry up. Lindsay (Blair Wojcik) is her mysterious employer, whom she never sees. Lindsay leaves written instructions for Lucy, and expects her to follow them to the letter. As time goes on, the instructions become more sinister, and Lucy starts to suspect that something more is going on than is apparent.
The film is a tightly wound thriller, even though the pace is a bit sluggish. It is unique in that no character ever speaks on screen. All of the dialogue is heard via voicemail messages or voiceovers. This really highlights Lucy's isolation, both while alone in the strange house, and her isolation from everyday society in general. It also gives the film an otherworldly, outré feel. The performances are good, though Solis is the only one we really see on screen. Some of the voice acting could have been better, but they're not awful. Where Jennifer Harrington really shines is her ability to generate and maintain a feeling of tension and dread. The viewer is constantly on edge and uncomfortable, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
The conclusion isn't explosive or overly dramatic, but it is emotionally satisfying. While it's not perfect, there are a couple of minor continuity problems for example, Harrington crafts a unique and compelling thriller with Housekeeping. Recommended.
The image is 1.78:1 widescreen, and looks pretty good. It's crisp and bright, with an interesting color scheme. Out in the regular world, everything is washed out browns and greys, while in Lindsay's house, everything has an antiseptic blue tone.
Audio is Dolby digital 5.1 channel, and works well. The sound design is unique, as almost all of the dialogue is filtered and distorted as voicemail messages, etc. No hiss or other problem can be heard though, and the dialogue is always clearly audible. English and Spanish subtitles are included.
The only extras included are trailers for Sanatorium, Red Clover, Ritual and Mischief Night.
Housekeeping has an intriguing concept, and is mostly well executed. It works as a slow burn thriller, and a psychological study, and it's arty without being pretentious. Adriana Solis delivers a very compelling performance, and hopefully we'll see a lot more of her. This is definitely worth a look, especially if like me you enjoy seeing someone try something new.