Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — A young girl walks in a heavy rain toward an old mansion. She opens the gate and enters a world of love, torment and revenge from phantoms.
That’s the opening of Cô Hầu Gái (The Housemaid), which was officially released nationwide yesterday.
The film is based on a true story that director Derek Nguyễn heard from his grandmother. When she was young, she worked as a housemaid for a French landlord and fell in love with him.
During his childhood, Nguyễn, who now lives in the US, listened to many ghost stories from his grandmother, and he grew up believing that the spirit world was real.
He nurtured a longtime dream of making a horror film to promote the Vietnamese cinema industry, in part because there are very few Vietnamese filmmakers working in this genre.
The movie tells a story set in 1953. Linh, played by Nhung Kate, who lost her family in the war, is hired to work as a housemaid at a plantation owned by French Lieutenant Sebastien. Sebastien is mostly at the battlefield, so there are only three people with different character traits who take care of the house and the rubber plantation.
Linh gradually feels the presence of the late Madam Camille, Sebastien’s wife. Feeling depressed due to her husband’s regular absence, she had become mad and drowned herself and their one-year-old baby.
One night, Sebastien suddenly comes home from the battlefield, wounded. Linh has to look after the master she just met, and the relationship quickly turns to romance. All is not well however, because their new relationship stirs up the other housekeepers, and Sebastien’s new fiancée, Madeline. It is when Linh tries to win Sebastien’s heart and protect her love, the tragic secrets of the rubber plantation and Madam Camille’s ghost unveil.
As Linh becomes infatuated with Sebastian, she begins to encounter the secrets and horror of the malevolent mansion. Linh and Sebastien have to fight with vengeful ghost of his dead wife, and rubber plantation coolies’ spirits who are out for blood.
Lieutenant Sebastien is played by Jean-Michel Richaud, who was born in Paris and now works as actor in Los Angeles. He dubbed his voice for many films including The Revenant, Frozen, The King’s Speech and Silver Linings Playbook.
“I have co-operated with many foreign filmmakers and invested much in this film, so I expect that it will be a blockbuster,” said Nguyễn .
Derek believed that the participation of a Hollywood star in the main role would help bring success for the film
Beyond the foreign actors, the film was also a production of participation with foreign filmmakers, with music by Jerome Leroy, cinematography by Sam Chase, film editing by Stephane Gauger, sound department by Franck Desmoulins.
Especially noted is the artist who created Madame Camille’s phantom: Bradley Greenwood, who worked as make-up expert for the film Kong - Skull Island.
“Horror films like Dracula and Phantom of the Opera inspired me to create a ghost of Madame Camille who looks haunting, desperate and opulent because she was a part of the upper class,” said Nguyễn.
“I worked with Greenwood and we decided to make Camille a bride in black.”
The film is released at cinemas nationwide with 2D, 3D and 4DX formats. The 92-minute movie has English subtitles. — VNS