“The Maiden” (2016): Real Estate Agent Finds Haunted House Hard to Sell


In the supernatural horror short The Maiden, real estate agent Lucy Wells (Alia Raelynn) is determined to sell an old house – and desperate enough to forge ahead even when a former resident makes it terrifyingly clear that she considers Lucy a trespasser. Writer/director Michael Chaves has forged a great-looking, suspenseful film that fans of haunted house cinema will relish.

It’s no spoiler to say that The Maiden is a supernatural story because the opening scene tips viewers off with a solid idea of what to expect. A little girl (Betsy Sligh) runs through an empty house with an older woman (Penny Orloff) following behind, and we are given a brief glimpse of her fate. It’s a gripping 43 seconds that sets the mood perfectly.

Years later, Lucy arrives at the house, which she is trying to sell. As she cleans the place to make the building seem to be in less disrepair than it is, she finds a necklace that played a part in the opening scene. She soon gets her first visit from the former resident. Lucy is not the type to scream and run away when unexplained phenomena occurs, though. She is bound and determined to make her commission, no matter how much it angers spirits. With a client on the way, Lucy and the spirit battle to see whose will is strongest.

Real estate agent Lucy Wells (Alia Raelynn in a striking performance) finds that the original owner of the house Lucy is trying to sell is rather reluctant to have that happen in writer/director Michael Chaves’s The Maiden.


Alia Raelynn is excellent as a resolute real estate agent, displaying both fear and a capability to be headstrong where others would flee. Her performance alone is enough to recommend The Maiden, but the short has so much more going for it, as well. Michael Chaves has crafted a tight, taut screenplay – with Jacob Fleisher providing additional dialogue – and he helms the film with marvelously, keeping both Lucy and viewers on guard throughout the film.

Of interesting note is that all of the action takes place during the daytime, and the special effects are seamless in this lighting, which is brighter than usual for horror films. Tristan Nyby’s cinematography is terrific, and Julie Kravitz Gannon’s editing adds to the excitement. The sound design and score help keep things on edge.

The Maiden had a successful film festival tour, including winning the Best Super Short Film award at last year’s Shriekfest. The short is now available to watch free online at https://vimeo.com/163109217. I suggest doing so at your earliest opportunity.

The Maiden: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.