Movie Review: The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)

Let me start off by saying that this is not a great movie, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s decently made but it is by no means a favorite of mine. However, that said, this happens to be one of the most effective movies I have ever seen, in getting you to hate a character that you are supposed to hate. Never in my life have I ever rooted for a character to die, than I did for Rebecca De Mornay’s in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.

The story centers around Annabella Sciorra’s character, as a mother who is sexually molested while undergoing a full body exam by a doctor, during the latter stages of her pregnancy. She gets home, unable to live with herself and tell her husband, played by Matt McCoy. They talk about it and agree the best thing to do is to file a complaint. When they do, four other women come out of the woodwork and also file claims, and the doctor’s career is finished. He kills himself, unable to face what lies ahead.

The doctor’s wife, who is also pregnant, miscarriages under the stress of losing her husband and the majority of her money because of all the lawsuits against the estate. When she sees that the woman who first accused her husband has put an ad out for a nanny position within the household, she jumps at the opportunity.

Passing herself off as a kind, gentle, professional nanny, she eludes any suspicion and slowly turns the older daughter against the mother and attempts to get the husband to cheat on the wife. She also terrorizes her every chance she gets, and the mother does not put two and two together. Perhaps the most disturbing part is when the nanny breast feeds the newborn baby herself, multiple times, that way the baby will recognize her instead of the mother.

Ironically, the only person who realizes that the nanny is up to no good is a mentally challenged man, who was sent by a goodwill agency to get him a job doing work around the outside of the house. He is played by Ernie Hudson. And of course, De Mornay’s character suspects that he suspects her, and attempts to get rid of him with due diligence, in a very creative, but non-murderous way.

Through a plot of terror, murder, and violence, this story does a great job at getting you to want the nanny to be killed. I do not want to ruin the ending for anyone, but let’s just say I felt satisfied when the end credits began to roll. This movie also features a young Julianne Moore, before she was a big star. Final rating: 7 out of 10.

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