Peyton Flanders (Rebecca De Mornay) seemed to be the perfect nanny, but secretly she was out to wreck the lives of the family she was supposed to be helping. Before becoming the nanny, Peyton had a miscarriage due to the stress caused by the death of her husband, Dr. Victor Mott (John de Lancie), and blamed it on Claire (the mother, played by Annabella Sciorra),. Claire suspects nothing, having never met Peyton before.Written by
Everything was fine until they hired that babysitter...
The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is the cornerstone of the trashy chick flick sub-genre. Many films since have used the same formula that makes this one a success, and most have failed. The reason this film is almost a resounding success has nothing to do with the plot or characters, however, it's the way that director Curtis Hanson handles it. The man who would go on to find acclaim with the astounding L.A. Confidential directs with the utmost still, and while there are few absolutely shocking sequences in this film; you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise due to the way that Hanson handles every scene. The movie leaves a lot of room for suspense, and every instant is made the best of by the director. The plot seems rather routine these days (and it probably did back in 1992), as we see a good all-American family hire the 'perfect' babysitter. She's not quite so perfect, however, and as we watch her pull down the family she's supposed to be helping from within, this becomes abundantly clear.
One thing that makes this film hard to like for some people is the fact that almost every motivation in the film is extremely unlikely. Would you hire a babysitter who apparently 'just knew' you wanted one? Wouldn't you become suspicious when everything started going wrong after you hired her? The list goes on, it really does, and it would seem that writer Amanda Silver just wanted to portray certain plots and didn't care too much how the characters fit into them. It's also obvious that the script was written by a woman throughout, with many of the sequences being more aimed towards women. None of these bad points really harm it though, because it's so well handled that it's hard not to just sit back and enjoy yourself. The centrepiece when it comes to the stagy set pieces is definitely the one with the greenhouse, which is both psychologically pleasing and suspense filled. The acting is just fine, with Rebecca De Mornay slotting into the deranged psycho role nicely. The best thing about this film for me is definitely the way that the babysitter manipulates the children and engineers situations to her advantage. This may be trash at the end of the day, but it's fiendishly done!
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