Short Film Review: Cleaner

Three simple rules, with a dark history behind them in the short film, Cleaner, in which a maid/cleaner comes to service an empty house with a sinister past. Or is it present?

Stay out of the closed rooms.

Never answer the door. 

Keep the curtains closed. 

Cleaner Screenshot 1

The unnamed main character breaks the given rules rather quickly and easily snowballs the story into an unsettling thriller about love, abuse, and revenge.

The 10 minute film is a slow burn that pulls you in closer by the second — wondering what the hell is going on as nosy neighbours try to force their way into the house, the power goes out, and shadows follow the lead around every corner.

Meanwhile, the ‘cleaner’ is battling her own demons with her own abusive love affair that has clearly resulted in a black eye; it becomes clear that she is using this house in the same way that the house is using her. 

Cleaner is also a somewhat straight to the point story that develops the characters and plot points relatively quickly and gives you a satisfying ending that you didn’t even think you needed.

Cleaner Screenshot 2

The 10 minute pacing works perfectly and I don’t know if adding or removing time would have worked as well, and I’m not even going to contemplate it! The natural lighting of the cinematography really works too, as well as the soundtrack that gives subtle little nods to the horror genre as a whole.

Director Gareth Brown has something very unique here without being preachy, over-the-top, or careless with his characters and their backstories. He sees people and their complexities in ways that you don’t see very often.

I really hope to see more of his work in the near future, and that he doesn’t lose his surreal and insightful technique for story telling.   

By Elisabeth Joplin

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