‘House of Wax meets Audition’
The Cleaning Lady is a 2018 American horror feature film directed by Jon Knautz (Goddess of Love; The Shrine; Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer) from a screenplay co-written with Alexis Kendra, who also stars in the Olivargo production alongside Stelio Savante and Rachel Alig.
Alice (Alexis Kendra), a love-addicted beauty, befriends Shelly (Rachel Alig), a shabby and badly burned recluse. It’s a comparable take off from Single White Female, although this goes darker. Way darker.
The Cleaning Lady is a disturbing and suspenseful story of obsession in various forms. Alice is extremely pretty and somewhat materialistic with a good heart… a heart which also seems to be focused on her married lover, Michael (Stelio Savante). She spends her time focused on her home business (cosmetology), working out, and attending group therapy sessions in order to break free from all negative situations that will entangle her into romantic hardships.
Shelly couldn’t be further on the life spectrum from Alice. Badly burned in an “accident” when she was a child, Shelly stays in the shadows with her softly spoken answers, straggly hair and beaten up wardrobe. She is a voyeur with an evil agenda that hits Alice at an unsuspected jump scare moment.
After Alice hires Shelly to be her cleaning lady, she falls upon her accessibility to become fast friends, primarily to avoid reconnecting with Michael. Opening up to Shelly regarding her relationship status, Shelly calmly provides her disdain for being a potential homewrecker and secretly plots how to purify Alice’s world. With “good” intentions, Shelly slowly steps over the friendship boundaries by overstaying her welcome and even appearing at night to… well… just watch and see what depravity she musters up!
The intensity of Shelly’s fixation climaxes into a horrific exhibition of “What Would You Do” before the rest of her maniacal plans follow in extreme carnage.
The Cleaning Lady gains considerable merit via flashbacks to Shelly’s shocking childhood and what built up this severe rage for revenge through a deeply traumatic upbringing. Every performance is on point, but the MVP is clearly Rachel Alig as The Cleaning Lady who draws the audience into her unconformable stance without even muttering a word. Definitely one to watch!
Meredith Brown, MOVIES and MANIA
Other reviews [may contain spoilers – click links to read more]:
“The Cleaning Lady is a spellbinding glimpse into the mind of a deeply disturbed young woman. While it may sometimes feel underdeveloped, the film boasts solid technical ability and a sickening story to boot. With The Cleaning Lady, Knautz and Kendra have created a film that is truly twisted on every level.” Bloody Disgusting
“When Shelly finally flips she vaults over her creepiness and straight into downright nasty and calculated. The frenetic last twenty minutes provide most of the answers to her cruel actions, but the ending is happy to leave a few crazy details to your morbid imagination.” Britflicks
“Exploring the horror convention of the scarred villain and conventionally beautiful victim, Knautz turns both on their heads and creates something much more complex. The Cleaning Lady is a film full of illusions that invites us to question our own.” Eye for Film
“Overall, the film feels like an oddity, a soap opera that slowly tilts into disturbing territory as it reels you in. It works. If you are looking for a retro, stylish chiller that beguiles and disturbs in equal measure The Cleaning Lady is worth a watch.” Flickering Myth
Over-reliance on a tired cliche aside, The Cleaning Lady still offers the viewer plenty to think on. It’s also got some terrible moments of stomach-churning violence and unease that are very affecting. If you’ve ever watched The Cable Guy or Single White Female, and thought ‘this film is missing some blood and torment’, you’ll certainly enjoy The Cleaning Lady.” The Hollywood News
“It’s good, but it’s nothing that got me too excited. It’s definitely worth the price of a stream or a download if you’re a fan of female-lead thrillers, but I don’t think I’d recommend buying it on DVD. Everyone involved with this movie did a fantastic job, but the script needed more work to keep the tone, timing and story flowing and growing in tandem.” Horror Society
” …the film gradually, masterfully, becomes incredibly upsetting, but in a manner that is justifiably dramatic and makes perfect sense of the ensuing horror. And a horror film it most certainly is, one that is beautifully acted, thoughtfully written by Kendra and executed with careful direction by Knautz. One of the genre pleasures of the year…” The Movie Waffler
“The Cleaning Lady opens with scenes involving mice and a blender. That should tell you this isn’t going to be a fun collection of jump scares. And it isn’t, The Cleaning Lady mixes psychologically disturbing elements with disturbingly nasty violence to create a film that isn’t easy to watch […] Knautz and Kendra wisely flesh out both of the leads so we can feel a conflicting range of emotions for both of them.” Voices from the Balcony
RLJE Films released The Cleaning Lady on VOD, Digital HD and DVD on June 4, 2019.
Alexis Kendra … Alice – Goddess of Love; Girl House; Big Ass Spider!; Hatchet II
Stelio Savante … Michael
Rachel Alig … Shelly – Feast of Fear; Ghostline; 12/12/12
Elizabeth Sandy … Helen
Mykayla Sohn … Young Shelly
JoAnne McGrath … Colleen
Keri Marrone … Miranda
Robert Hugh Starr … Bill
Carla Wynn … Linda
Kim Marie Cooper … Laurel
Logan Garretson … Tyler
Zarif … Don
Nicole Watts … Sheryl
Kai Cofer … Hillbilly
Skye Sea … Emaciated Person
Los Angeles, California
The Cleaning Lady is a feature film version of the 2016 short of the same name.