January 8, 2013

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (1992)
Starring Rebecca De Mornay and Annabella Sciorra

Comments:  Rebecca De Mornay has mean little eyes.  Have you ever noticed that?  You take one look at her face and, even though she has always been quite beautiful, every single time you look at her she has this look in her eyes like she wants to rip your goddamn face off.  In fact, out of all the actresses in Hollywood over the past 30 years, I can't think of a single actress who can pull off the "I am hot" and "I am also going to stab you" combination better than Rebecca De Mornay.

The defense rests

By the way, if you want a good laugh, check out Rebecca De Mornay in the TV movie remake of "The Shining."  For whatever reason, Stephen King (god bless him) thought that the best choice to play meek stay at home anonymous suburban mom Wendy Torrance was Rebecca De Mornay.  It might have been the single worst piece of casting I have ever seen in a movie.  Well, okay, either that or Kim Basinger as a science teacher in Cellular.  Or Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist in that James Bond movie.  Or, come to think of it, Jack Nicholson as an average ordinary suburban dad in the original Shining.  That casting was just as ridiculous as Rebecca De Mornay as Wendy Torrance in the remake.

Hi, I'm a soccer mom

So anyway, Rebecca De Mornay is hot.  And Rebecca De Mornay is fucking scary.  Not in a bad way, just... I mean... you know, in an effective way.  Cast her as the villain in a movie and she will always be believable.

And that is why The Hand That Rocks the Cradle has long been one of my favorite little guilty pleasures.  

Yes, this is the first time in movie history that Rebecca De Mornay finally got to play a psychopath.

Ponies are pretty

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is the story of an ordinary little Seattle family called the Bartels.  They are nothing special.  They are just your ordinary every day suburban family.  They have a little girl named Emma.  The mother is pregnant.  They employ a mentally challenged groundskeeper named Solomon to work in their yard.  They are a very sweet family.

And then evil Rebecca De Mornay shows up and she applies for a job as their nanny.  

And then she proceeds to rip their happy little perfect suburban world apart.

Peyton explaining to Emma how babies are made and why Daddy doesn't love her anymore

I can't tell you how many times I have watched The Hand That Rocks The Cradle over the years.  I will watch it every single time it shows up on TV.  And I absolutely love it.   I will always love it. Like I said, it is one of my all time top guilty pleasures.  

Yet here is the funny thing.  I can't really even tell you WHY I like it so much.  I mean, it's certainly not the best movie I have ever seen.  The storyline doesn't make sense after about the first ten minutes.  The guy who plays Mr. Bartel (Matt McCoy) is maybe the wimpiest movie dad you will ever see in your life.  He might also be the stupidest human being ever seen in a movie, ever.  At one point I think he actually gets outwitted by the retarded groundskeeper.

King Dipshit

Oh, and speaking of Solomon the handyman, he is played by the one and only black Ghostbuster himself, Mister Ernie Hudson.  Which makes it fun to sit there and drop Ghostbusters quotes all throughout the movie.  Only say them in a Solomon voice.  Try it when you are watching the movie, it's fun.

"That's a big Twinkie"

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle came out in the year 1992, and it was one of about ten different psychological thrillers that came out within the span of about twelve months.  For whatever reason, I guess we decided that 1992 was going to be the year of the psychological thriller.  And even though Cape Fear and Single White Female will probably go down in history as being the better entries of The Psychological Thriller Year of 1992, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle is the one that will always be my favorite.

All kidding aside, I love this movie because it stars Rebecca De Mornay as a psychopath.  And Rebecca De Mornay is a GREAT psychopath.  I have always wondered why this was the only movie ever where she got to play a character who was horrible and evil and murdering and batshit crazy.  She is absolutely amazing in it.

I also love this movie because it is that rare combination of being scary and effective, while at the same time being goofy as hell.  Yes, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is one of those rare movies out there that very easily straddles the line between being amazing and being ridiculous.  It is one half Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, and the other half any movie ever seen on Mystery Science Theater.  And of course if you know me, you know that I think movies with that sort of combination should be placed on a pedestal.

Rebecca De Mornay beating the crap out of an 8 year old

In the end, I mainly just love this movie because it is fun.   And isn't that all that movies are supposed to be?  It is scary when it has to be.  It is stupid when it isn't trying to be.  It is over the top and unsubtle just about every single step of the way.  It is shameless and obvious and as manipulative as hell.  Yet for some odd and glorious reason, it works.  I don't know how it works, I don't know how a movie with Rebecca De Mornay as the lead and a father who is this stupid and the handicapped black Ghostbuster as the hero can work, but it does.  It was either one of the greatest achievements in moviemaking history, or it was one of the luckiest.  And considering it was made by the guy who made L.A. Confidential (Curtis Hanson), I am guessing it was mostly because of him.

In any case, this is a movie that is way more effective than it has any right to be, and because of that it is a guilty pleasure that I will always enjoy.  Oh, and the fact that it has a great ending too doesn't hurt.

Go watch The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.  It will never win any awards, and you will probably hate yourself afterwards for how easily you were sucked into it.  But it will always hold a special place in my heart because it is memorable.

Also, make sure you never let this person look after your kids:


P.S.  All kidding aside, Rebecca De Mornay is absolutely fantastic in this and she would easily make my list of the top 25 all time greatest movie villains.

* My favorite IMDB user reviews about The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

Great suspense movie - 23 April 2005
One of the greatest thrillers ever made. A classic. Perfect script, superb acting, excellent execution. Curtis Hanson is a true master. Annabella Sciorra, Rebecca De Mornay, Ernie Hudson, Julianne Moore and others make this movie unforgettable. www.bestdvd.co.uk wrote: "A great performance from De Mornay who is truly convincing as the insane Nanny from hell. Likewise, Ernie Hudson who is the retarded Solomon, (a handyman helping out the family) hits the emotional nerve as he gets the sharp end of the stick from de Mornay. The camera-work is superb too - reminiscent of the 80's horror style shots - and works to great dramatic effect. The suspense as the film nears its finale is magnificent and you soon forget the 2 hour length of the film after a sluggish midsection.

A decent thriller- 12 September 1999
I remember watching quite a few thrillers around the time this was released - Unlawful Entry, Single White Female, Deadbolt - all were fairly similar in theme. This film I enjoyed the most though mainly due to menacing performance of Rebecca de Mornay. Man, she's a nasty piece of work.

The greenhouse bit is particularly tense especially when you know what's coming.

Rebecca de Mornay is the nanny from hell...scary thriller... - 31 December 2006
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.

Chilly and disturbing movie. - 18 May 2001
Despite not being fond of that type of movie, The Hands That Rocks The Cradle is an exception. I like so much this movie, mainly Rebecca de Mornay's warped character. How she earns that family's respect and confidence and step by step she's tearing them apart. Fortunately (Or not, given what eventually happens to her) Marlene finds out (Good job, as always, by Julianne Moore, that is as beautiful as usual) and Peyton's plans are discovered.

One of my favourite scenes is when Peyton goes to the little daughter's schoolyard and tells that bully off. She warns him not to f*** with her and the bully screams in pain.

If you are in the mood of spending almost two hours watching a chilly movie with good acting and a tense ending, pick this one. Ten out of ten.

Everything was fine until they hired that babysitter... - 2 October 2005
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 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!

* My favorite piece of trivia about The Hand That Rocks the Cradle:
(I love this one)

- Rebecca De Mornay had actually been angling for the part of Tinkerbell in Hook. Losing the role to Julia Roberts prompted her to actively seek something a little darker instead.

* My favorite scene in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle:

There is one scene in the movie where Peyton catches Solomon (Ernie Hudson) spying on her while she is breastfeeding in the nursery, and it is easily one of the more uncomfortable scenes I can think of any movie so far on this countdown.  The look in her eyes when she gets him alone by the garage will just send chills down your spine.  "Don't fuck with me, retard.  My version of the story will be... better."

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle at the IMDB

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle at Wikipedia

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