A Movie A Day #324: The Housekeeper (1987, directed by Ousama Rawi)


Eunice Parchman (Rita Tushingham) has always had a secret.  She is dyslexic.  When she was in school, the kids made fun of her for saying, “god” instead of “dog.”  When she grew up, her cruel father threatened to send her to a special school so that she could learn how to read.  Eunice suffocated him with a pillow and then moved to America, where she was hired as a housekeeper.  Eunice is a good housekeeper except she can not read any of the directions that her obnoxious employers leave for her.  When she befriends a religious fanatic (Jackie Burroughs) and accidentally overwaters her employer’s prized orchids in the same week, it can only lead to one thing, a shotgun rampage.

When I was growing up, The Housekeeper (also known as A Judgement In Stone) used to show up regularly on television.  As far as I know, it is the only horror film to have been inspired by dyslexia.  Eunice is so paranoid about people discovering that she can’t read that she is willing to murder to protect her secret.  It does not help that, in America, she works for the Coverdales, a family that is so obnoxious that they probably would give her a hard time about being dyslexic.  The film takes its time to get going but Rita Tushingham gives a good performance and all of her victims are so annoying that it won’t upset anyone when Eunice takes her revenge on them.  The best part of the film is the performance of Jackie Burroughs as an insane religious fanatic who brags about her sex life at a revival meeting.

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