The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)

Drama, Thriller
Annabella Sciorra, Rebecca De Mornay, Matt McCoy, Ernie Hudson
After her humiliated husband kills himself, an embittered pregnant widow loses her child, and embarks on a mission of vengeance against a woman and her family.
  • 10 Jan 1992 Released:
  • 28 Aug 2001 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Amanda Silver Writer:
  • Curtis Hanson Director:
  • N/A Website:

Trailer:

The Nanny From Hell8/10
Just the opening scene turns off a lot of people, but that's too because all of the film - all of it - is interesting with Rebecca DeMornay excelling at a vengeful, psychotic killer nanny. This "nanny" does about everything you could do to ruin a family. Yes, she's the nanny from Hell.

I always thought Annabella Sciorra had an interesting face with a knockout smile, at least back in late '80s, early '90s, so I enjoy watching her. Here, she plays a good woman who is married to a good man (Matt McCoy) - wow, there's an oddity in modern films: a happy and faithful husband and wife!

This is an involving film. Once you are into it, you're hooked and the 100-plus minutes go by pretty fast. DeMornay is so effective in her role you just can't wait to see her exposed for who she is and justice done to her.

I did think Sciorra's character would have needed more to go on to come to the right conclusion near the end, but, usually every film has some question marks regarding credibility. The violent, ending scene is very suspenseful and well- done.
Rebecca de Mornay is the nanny from hell...scary thriller...6/10
You have to hand it to the makers of THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE--once the story starts to unravel, you have to stay tuned to find out how this manipulative bitch will get her comeuppance. It's as simple as that. We know from the start that she has evil intentions, but we never know how evil they are until she starts a series of manipulative acts that demonstrate how cunning and remorseless she is.

REBECCA de MORNAY is so convincingly evil that you have to wonder why her career didn't skyrocket after this. It's a performance worthy of award consideration, but both she and the film itself have been largely forgotten. None of the supporting players, with the exception of JULIANNE MOORE, have become household names but they're all quite effective.

The ending may be somewhat predictable--and most welcome when it finally comes--but it's still stylishly done and a satisfying conclusion to a tale of household terror when a nanny's rage goes amok because of an incident in her past involving a woman whom she perceives as ruining her husband's life. Sure, it's been done before, but never quite so cunningly presented.
Will rock your world!9/10
This is a chilling movie to spend a day or night with. Mrs. Moss (Rebecca De Mornay) seeks revenge on Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra) for reporting her husband Dr. Moss for sexual harassment, which lead to the doctor's suicide and precipitating Moss' miscarriage. She poses as nanny Peyton for the Bartel family, with the intention of raising hell.

Rebecca De Mornay gave an outrageously evil performance. The plot is solid and fast-paced; the only problem I have is the method Claire used to interview Peyton for the nanny position. She only asked Peyton, "How did you become to be a nanny?" leaving out relevant questions like health, personal background, prior jobs, resumes, way with kids, etc. Other than that, I enjoyed watching this movie and especially liked Julianne Moore's character, with her making smart, acid wit remarks. I especially liked her line "You have a Harvard education, make something up."

Overall, a great mystery movie with some good action mixed in.

Grade A-
A Film That Rocks the Audience5/10

Long before the acclaim of "L.A. Confidential", director Curtis Hansen offered up this trim, effectively manipulative and suspenseful film. Sciorra is a pregnant woman whose doctor (magnificently slimy de Lancie) molests her during an office visit. The ramifications of her subsequent charges bring about the entrance of De Mornay into her life. De Mornay poses as a nanny and almost immediately wreaks havoc on Sciorra's household, taking charge of it and manipulating the family, all while smiling pleasantly. The story is almost completely implausible and the credibility of the script is stretched further and further as it goes along. However, it matters not because of the sure-handed, inventive direction and the dedicated performance of De Mornay. Taking a cue from Hitchcock, much of the dirty business occurs in daylight among stark white walls and bright outdoor settings. De Mornay insinuates herself into the household and into the minds of the viewer with an unsettling and fascinating malevolence. No one is safe as she meticulously works her dread. Aside from her plots against Sciorra, her shocking behavior includes calling a mentally challenged man a 'retard' and saying the 'F' word to a grade school child. This decidedly un-PC approach is at compelling odds with Sciorra and her yuppie husband who both represent everything annoying and stereotypical about their type and status ('talking' to their kids, 'processing' everything psychologically, et al) They are well off and think they're 'on to' life, yet he's a dim bulb and she overreacts to everything possible. This makes a certain faction of the audience delight in seeing them tormented. Cutting a swath through all the bull is the stunning, fire-breathing, no-nonsense Moore as Sciorra's friend. This is one of the greatest supporting turns of the '90's. She owns every scene she's in, yet ultimately can't beat De Mornay, thus creating a terrific onscreen rivalry right from the start. Moore has never looked this wonderful again, nor essayed this brittle a role, but at least it exists as a monument to her talents at playing a ball-breaking bitch goddess. The excitement leading up to her confrontation with De Mornay is palpable (thanks in part to some great editing.) The male cast is weak. McCoy is often just plain bad and Hudson is embarrassing as a 'slow' handyman. Sciorra does well in a part that does her no favors. The film was a massive (surprise) hit, but she wasn't able to ride it to anything much afterwards. At least De Mornay was briefly lifted to a higher position in the film industry. Moore has fared the best. Zima (in her film debut!) is exceptionally cute as the daughter and does a great job. She later won a role on "The Nanny". The film inspired a raft of imitators featuring killer-sitters, killer-temps, etc... but none found the wide audience that this enjoyed. It's a credit to De Mornay (and Hanson) that despite being petite and feminine, she comes across as chilling and dangerously strong and violent.
Everything was fine until they hired that babysitter...7/10
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!