Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In the DVD extras of this low bud British flick ‘The Chambermaid’ Star Fiona Horsey started listing the stuff she was eating during a normal day of shooting, and it looks as if one of the things that the filmmakers didn’t cut corners on was food services. The list Fiona ran down was quite lengthy which seems about correct because as I was watching this movie it was pretty clear that this is a woman who hasn’t missed too many meals. I’m not saying that girlfriend is fat, for a simple glance at her washboard abdominals will testify to her fitness level, but she is one healthy looking girl who fills out a pair of denims quite nicely. Outstanding. There WAS a little more to ‘The Chambermaid’ than watching simply watching Ms. Horsey walk around nude but that was by far the highlight – for those of you who like that kind of thing. Dare I say that this alone is almost worth a solid recommendation? Almost.

Our film opens with Julia (Horsey) getting ready to go to work at her gig as a hotel chambermaid, and as usual she is running late largely because her cocaine snorting boyfriend Istvan (Willam Rowley) delays her departure for a little early morning delight. The owner of the little hotel that Julia works for is run by brow beaten mama’s boy O’Ryan (Paul Conway) and he did threaten Julia with a sacking should be late again, but Julia does have away with the fellas and convinces the eerie O’Ryan for a second chance.

There are issues all around as Istvan owes money to vicious Russian mobsters who he borrowed cocaine from on consignment, and by now everybody should know you don’t give crack to a crackhead to sell. Julia loves her loser musician boyfriend so much that she goes to extreme measure to get Istvan the cash, i.e., giving hand jobs to randy hotel customers. This little transgression gets Julie in a bit of trouble as the patron accuses her of stealing which leads to O’Ryan being forced to fire her, but lady luck smiles on Julie when she finds O’Ryan passed out later that night, drags him home and snuggles up in the bed with him all nekkid and convinces him when he wakes up that he blew

her back out the previous night. Note that I heard Gabrielle Union, of all people, use that term in the movie the ‘The Box’ so any opportunity that I can squeeze that colloquialism in, I’m gonna do it.

Things become complicated as O’Ryans shrill mother starts riding a nerve worse than ever, then O’Ryan discovers that Julie lied about them having sex which leads to him doing something he probably shouldn’t, the angry Russian mobsters get even angrier, then people start dying amidst a mix of oral sex, voyeurism, masturbation, rape and torture.

This is an odd little film directed by German auteur Wolfgang Buld. Shot quite drably on digital video, by design I assume, the movie takes a while to get started, leaving the viewer wondering what the hell it’s about exactly. I assume this time was taken to get us familiar with the very unlikable characters, and to that end I suppose it was effective since there was absolutely no one to identify with or root for in this flick, and less so as we got to know them better. Yeah, it’s not cool to drug women and then rape them – they got laws against that you know – but it’s also not cool to lead on losers, take advantage of them and tease them with that ass. No laws against that however, at least that I’m aware of. But even as the narrative begins to clear itself up as the movie moves along, it’s still unclear just exactly what this film is supposed to be. It’s certainly not a horror film, and though it has some psychological elements I’m not sure I’d call it a psychological thriller either. There’s some dark humor sprinkled in throughout but obviously it’s not a comedy and herein lies the main problem with ‘The Chambermaid’ is that it is a story that lacks any true kind of focus of narrative.

That being said it’s not altogether a bad film as Buld keeps his shaky narrative moving along and his lead actress does give an above average performance as the victim / victimizing Julie. There’s no second guessing the fact that a large part of the appeal of watching this film is that Fiona Horsey gets naked a lot. No doubt. But she can act, and to her benefit she didn’t make her character a victimized waif or a duplicitous whore, just an opportunist who took whatever came her way at that particular moment. She wasn’t a particularly likable character but not an unlikable one either. The rest of the production, from the other performances to Buld’s shooting style wasn’t particularly crisp, but it served its purpose in moving the story along.

Not the most polished production you’re going to see and one could easily argue that it is a bit nihilistic and misogynistic, but ‘The Chambermaid’ does squeeze by on the strength of its star's hips which work very hard to even out the uneven narrative this film presents.

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