Finally, I got around to watching this old Korean film, The Housemaid (also known as Hanyo), a black-and-white film made in 1960. I read that this film was considered to be amongst the top in its time.
I found the digitally restored film (with good English subtitles) on this website called TheAuteurs and watched it online. The streaming was unusually smooth for me.
TheAuteurs has quite an impressive collection of films, a number of which are on my to-watch list. And re-watch list, like Psycho!
The Housemaid is about a middle-aged married piano teacher/composer who is quite attractive to younger women. He and his wife, a seamstress, work very hard to improve their lot in life. One day, they move into a two-storey house with their two (very annoying) kids and subsequently hires a young (and very odd) housemaid to help out with the household chores. The rest of the Fatal Attraction story is quite predictable.
The housemaid seduces him, becomes pregnant, the wife finds out and convinces her to fall down a flight of stairs to induce a miscarriage, the housemaid goes berserk afterwards, causes the death of the man’s son who dies by falling down the same flight of stairs; finally, both man and crazy housemaid commit suicide by drinking rat’s poison. She dies spread-eagled on the flight of stairs.
At the end of the film, it turns out that the man and his wife were just reading about a similar story that was being reported in the newspapers (not that it actually happened to them in real life). He then goes on to tell the audience that this story could happen to any household and ‘as men grow older, then spend more and more time thinking about younger women’ (yeah, right).
The film gave me the creeps. I don’t think I can look at a piano or a flight of stairs again without getting flashbacks of some of the scenes in the movie and having goosepimples.
I can’t really say I liked the film very much. It was quite flat. No character nuances, or interesting camera angles and the story unfolded predictably. Have to remember that this was made in 1960.
But I liked the actresses’ Audrey Heburn-ish styling – the clothes, the hairdo, the arch of the eyebrows.
Now, I can’t wait to watch the Korean remake which will be released this year.