Lee Thongkham Juggles Two Genres With ‘The Maid’ | Review by Anannya Srusti

Recently released by Netflix, this Thai-language supposedly claimed horror film undergoes a complete changeover in its genre with its jaw dropping plot twist. Directed by Lee Thongkham, The Maid revolves around a haunted mansion where a girl is hired as a maid and a caretaker to the youngest member of the family, Nid. In the very beginning, we can see a different girl (who is revealed to be a former maid in the same mansion) talking to her therapist about her traumatic experience in the house, which begins with a creepy stuffed toy of a monkey, later turning into a real one with laser eyes at nights, to the uncanny movements of a woman, only visible to her. 

Credits – Netflix

When Joy gets appointed as the new maid of the house, we can see her experiencing the same events as that of the former one but her claims are dismissed by the rest of the members of the house. The only other witness is Nid, or Lady Nid (as addressed by the maids) who is suffering from a rare form of dementia, resulting in her being an unreliable source. Thongkham’s attempt to portray a mentally ill patient as inaccurate and untrustworthy is not at all a new concept in cinema. Many renowned filmmakers, from Alfred Hitchcock to M Knight Shyamalan have exaggeratedly used mental disorders to incorporate some spine chilling elements in their movies and stigmatising the mentally ill in the process. 

What begins with haunting monkeys and a plethora of jump scares by the ghost of the mansion is soon turned into a completely different narrative in the second half. While covertly looking at old photos in one of the rooms of the house, Joy discovers a picture of the maid whose ghost has been haunting her from the very first day. She grows suspicious when no one gives her a clear answer as to what happened to her. It is then the spirit decides to show her the events that led to her death. After a ‘sure enough’ sexual encounter between Ploy and Nirach, and getting pregnant with his baby, Uma and Nirach decided to raise the child as their own. Upon finding her husband’s emotional proximity towards the mother of the child, a jealous Uma watched Ploy die of blood loss instead of helping her, when she slipped in the bathroom. She was then wrapped up and buried alive by the house staff and Nirach to avoid controversy. 

Credits – Netflix

Just when you are about to pat yourself in the back for having cracked the plot beforehand and label it as ‘cliched’, the director uncovers the rather appalling twist. In no time the hitherto timid Joy transforms into a killer when it is revealed that she had profusely stabbed to death the owners of the house she was previously working at. After that the story takes no time to change into a revenge drama and transforms into a slasher film. Having discovered Joy’s relation to Ploy, the viewers can then see her engage in a gruesome bloodbath when she kills each and every one of the house on Uma’s birthday. 

Although certain questions like what exactly was the case with the ghost monkey and why did it never occur again, still remain unanswered by the director, the viewers can find something to hook on to in the second half when Joy reveals her psychopathic killer side. ‘The Maid’ can therefore be summed up as a slow burn with Joy’s character probably inspired from several slasher films, incorporated with horrendous stabbings and a not-so-terrifying ghost. 

About the Writer

A curious individual trying to coexist in two worlds – one being the real one and the other full of my characters from my favourite movies and TV shows. These characters have taught me a lot more than any real person and everyday I look forward to meeting new ones.

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