MTI // 2004 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 20th, 2007
Blackmail. Lies. Murder.
Two great names associated with this film: female star Fiona Horsey and writer/director Wolfgang Buld. I've never seen any of their stuff before this, but those are some great names!
Horsey...um...let's just call her Fiona from now on, is the titular chambermaid and I really wanted to use the line that "she puts the 'tit' in titular," but thought better of it. Anywho, she plays Julia, a sexpot that works two jobs to pay for her free-loading druggie musician boyfriend who burns through cash like it's kindling, one of which is cleaning up the hotel owned by a demanding old woman and her weirdo son, Michael (Paul Conway).
When Julia's boyfriend finds himself in too deep with a loan shark, Julia figures out a way to exploit Michael's obvious infatuation with her, and proceeds to deceive the hapless guy, who by the way, has the most pronounced Adam's apple I've ever seen. Soon, the cons and betrayals mount up until the craziness catches up to Julia and she's forced to deal with the life-threatening results.
You want a well-executed slice of dark humor, here you go. The Chambermaid has all the ingredients of a twisty, betrayal-laden soap opera and adds in a touch of depravity: the finished product is a zesty tale of debauchery and lowlifes and a kickass female protagonist.
Julia dominates the storyline and the entire plot spins on her axis. Her decisions, most of them horrible by the way, drive the two men on each side of her life batty, forcing them to do unsavory things, but that's the fun of it. So, no, Julia's not so much a heroine as a ruthless she-devil, but Fiona plays her with such gusto it's impossible to not root for the character. Homegirl is on fire!
This film is rich with back-stabbings and deception and while there are no neck-snapping, game-changing twists, the devious back-and-forth between the characters are sufficient. Buld controls his script well and paces the film satisfactorily, building up the stakes until the big payoff at the end when things get dark. Fiona is the constant through all of this; whether her character is being reactive or proactive in the dastardly deeds, she brings energy and empathy to the situation. She's also a provocative screen presence and is in various stages of undress throughout the film.
Her male costar brings his A-game as well. Paul Conway excels as the emotionally weak, borderline-crazy, wholly pathetic wannabe lover. Michael's naiveté r provides a compelling foil to Julia's over-sexed shrewdness, even to the point where one might be able to drum up some sympathy for this poor schmuck -- until he goes ape-@#$%.
All of these plot and character accolades are a testament to Wolfgang Buld's talent. The writer/director has a good grasp on his serpentine plot, and knows how to capitalize on the charisma of his lead, pulling it all together for a low-budget, but entertaining affair.
The DVD is minimalist in its offerings, the standout a making-of documentary. Video is non-anamorphic widescreen, though the digital picture looks nice. A 5.1 surround mix delivers the audio uneventfully.
Beware the marketing for this film, which refashions it as a slasher film. Not so.
It's sordid and crazy. Worth a look for fans of sordid and crazy.
$5 tip for you.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Making-of Featurette