Jon Knautz made his feature debut in 2007 with Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. Since then he’s delivered a collection of features and shorts that cover many different topics. So many that it’s easy to not associate them with the same writer/director. His most recent film, The Cleaning Lady, sees him reuniting with Alexis Kendra to expand their short version of the story. They previously co-wrote The Goddess Of Love and she’s appeared in several other of his films.
Alice (Alexis Kendra, Girl House, Big Ass Spider) is trying to break up with her married lover Michael (Stelio Savante, Death House). This is easier said than done as she has addiction issues, including “love addiction”. Shelly (Rachel Alig, Verotika, Chase) is a badly burned maintenance person in Alice’s apartment building. Alice hires her to clean her apartment, and the two become friends. But just like Alice, Shelly has her own issues, and the physical scars she bears are not her worst scars either. She decides to help Alice end her sinful affair. By any means necessary.
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. An early version of the poster referred to it as “House Of Wax meets Audition” and that’s not too far from the film’s tone. I might replace House Of Wax with Single White Female though.
Knautz and Kendra wisely flesh out both of the leads so we can feel a conflicting range of emotions for both of them. The flashbacks to Shelly’s childhood and the abuse she suffered help explain her actions. They humanize and give us some sympathy for what could easily have just been a female Jason. Fleshing out Alice, seeing that she does feel bad about her affair with Michael. That she wants to end it but actually does love him. This makes her more sympathetic than the homewrecking bimbo she first appears to be. The fact that both women are troubled makes The Cleaning Lady that much more interesting.
A grim film about the darker side of friendship, The Cleaning Lady will have you wondering about the motivations of some of your own friends. Or feeling thankful that you’re an antisocial hermit.
The Cleaning Lady will be available On Demand, Digital HD and DVD June 4, 2019, from RLJE Films.