Today’s film is Hanyo, The Housemaid. It is a very interesting example of early Korean horror as well as a moralistic lesson.
The film opens and closes with a husband and wife discussing a newspaper article about an affair between a married man and the family housemaid. The film is an imagining of such an event and how it can destroy the entire family.
The husband, Mr. Kim, works as a piano teacher in a factory full of young female workers. Since he is one of the few males they ever see, several of them are going to like him. It’s just nature. A worker makes her friend pen him a love letter, but she gets suspended and later kills herself in shame. In response, the worker goes to his house to take piano lessons, but she has a plan.
Mr and Mrs. Kim both want a housekeeper. They just purchased a larger new house and Mrs. Kim is about to give birth soon. The worker suggests a woman who seems unbalanced and they hire her as their housekeeper.
The whole movie ends up being like Fatal Attraction if the crazy lady lived in their house full time. The housemaid takes advantage of Mr. Kim and becomes pregnant. She uses her condition to manipulate him until Mrs. Kim convinces her to abort it by “falling” down the stairs. In retaliation, she also kills their older son the same way. It is a common trope in both Korean and Japanese horror for victims to die by falling or being pushed down stairs. It is interesting to see it exists as early as a film from the 1960’s.
Nobody expects the housemaid to be as cunning and manipulative as she is. She becomes convinced she must kill herself and she wants to bring down the husband with her. Neither Mr nor Mrs. Kim ever call the police for anything she’s done and essentially let her get away with everything.
Then at the end, the husband and wife, who were discussing the news, turn to us and explain that this could happen to anyone. Yeah we know we literraly just got done watching it. We don’t really need the school lesson at the end. I will give this film a 7/10.