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DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 89 minutes, making of featurette, original theatrical trailer

STUDIO: Tartan/ Mediacorp/ Raintree Pictures

RELEASE DATE: 9-12-2006


THE MAID is an unsettling atmospheric ghost story. Rosa, a woman from the Philippines, comes to Singapore during the seventh Chinese Month (where the gates of Hell are open and hungry ghosts are among us with some wanting revenge or justice before the thirty days are over). Soon Rosa starts seeing ghosts as Mr. and Mrs. Teo, the people who she works for, exhibit strange behavior. she finds out about Esther (another girl from The Philippines). Also the Teo family have a son, Ah Soon, who is an adult with the mind of a child. THE MAID is the type of film that would fit in with the old USA horror movies from the 1930s. It is quite unsettling as you wonder if Rosa would be better hooking up with an online Asian brides (looking for American husbands) web site. Writer/director Kelvin Tong has created an atmospheric film that was a hit in Singapore. THE MAID is the type of film that could be a crossover hit with the DVD audience since it has plenty of English in it (a little is hard to understand, but the actress playing Rosa speaks very clear English). I just wonder how long it will take an American studio wanting to remake this film for the US.

A few reviewers say THE MAID is an empty film, but I counter it with the suggestion that Kelvin Tong was more interested in creating an atmospheric film which it works great as that type of film. Also an atmospheric ghost story is a good way to look at a woman in a strange land where she doesn't understand the local superstitions as the ghosts make her a little unnerved. Who wouldn't be a little uneasy in a different place where you know no one?! THE MAID uses ghosts to show Rosa's unease in a country far from home. She took the job because her brother is sick. I do like the way the film came up with a few twists (one after another) in the last half hour. One bit of info at the Internet Movie Database suggests the 89 minute version I saw is the cut version and 93 minutes is the full uncut version.

VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

AUDIO: Mandarin/Tagalog/English 5.1 Dolby Digital, 5.1 DTS, 2.0 DD

Subtitles: English, Spanish

The only thing I will say about the transfer is the framing looks weird. It looks like the makers of THE MAID should have opened it up and shot in 1.85:1 instead because many shots look stretched or too close.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The Making of The Maid is a 22 minute promo for the movie which mostly focuses on the customs that take place during the Seventh Month of the Chinese Calendar. I was just bored by it and by the ad breaks being left in show that the special was made for TV. The original theatrical trailer is also included and the usual Tartan Asia Extreme trailers that have been included too many times on other Tartan releases (it wouldn't hurt to show previews for upcoming films).

FINAL ANALYSIS: THE MAID is an atmospheric ghost story which is light on extras. watch it for the movie and not the extras.

this review is (c)9-20-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com