'The Maid's Room' adds suspense to class tensions

'Maid's Room' puts wealth and privilege on notice in a sly, satisfying thriller about class, status, violence

Wealth and privilege rarely seem as precarious as they do in "The Maid's Room," writer-director Michael Walker's sly, satisfying thriller about class, status and violence.

Paula Garcés stars as Drina, a fine-boned undocumented immigrant from Colombia hired to fluff the pillows and polish the silver at a posh summer cottage. Mostly, she cleans up after Princeton-bound teen Brandon (Philip Ettinger), the kind of rich brat who complains that his dad is too cheap to buy a vacation home right on the beach.

While the two are alone at the house, Drina realizes that Brandon attempted to wipe blood off some of his things the night before. When his parents (Bill Camp and Annabella Sciorra) return, she shares her discovery with them and, perhaps taking inspiration from the "Erin Brockovich" movie poster in her bedroom, vows to take the matter to the police.

That's when "The Maid's Room" transforms from a conventional genre flick into a surprising and compassionate drama about the sacrifices some will make to cling to the slippery top. The film is by no means stellar; characterization remains rough, and the central ant-infestation metaphor of slow, inevitable corruption weighs down the picture with obviousness.

And yet there's just enough compelling reversals and anything-could-happen suspense to make this increasingly claustrophobic work effective. In this house, nobody's safe.


"The Maid's Room."

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes.

Playing: At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.

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