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Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle


I debated long and hard over posting this movie. Technically it's a thriller but it contains some horror elements and a terrific death scene. So I present The Hand That Rocks The Cradle an official Cinemania Horror Pass.

  The Hand That Rocks The Cradle is a 1992 thriller starring Annabella Sciorra and Rebecca De Mornay. The movie centers on Claire (Sciorra), a pregnant woman who learns that her obstetrician has been molesting her. She turns him in leading to his suicide and the miscarriage of his wife, Peyton (De Mornay). A vengeful Peyton takes a job as their nanny, intent on taking Claire's family from her.

  Rebecca De Mornay is perfect as Peyton. She's intense, genuinely scary, and can play a psycho without being over the top. She makes the simple task of eating an apple seem sinister.

  While De Mornay owns the film, I have to give props for Sciorra stuck with the usually thankless role as the protagonist. Sciorra brings a certain vulnerability and feistiness to her role that makes you genuinely root for her.

   Ernie Hudson plays Solomon, a special needs handyman who rooms with Claire's family. He's not saddled with the stereotypical and often insulting traits that generally shows up with special needs characters. He's actually portrayed as a person not a stock character. Julianne Moore also stars but her character is pretty boring and showcases none of Moore's talents. Trekkies take note, John de Lancie a.k.a Q plays Claire's rather handsy doctor.

   This film contains one of the most awesome deaths in cinema. Peyton rigs a greenhouse to crash in on Clare but is forced instead to use it to take out Moore whose character has learned Peyton's identity. It's wonderfully shot and actually comes off as realistic.

   The only thing really wrong with the film is the lighthearted family scenes. The movie constantly forces the point home on how perfect and happy the family is. Not only are they redundant, they really don't move the plot along.

  For instance we are treated to a scene where the father and daughter sing an off key rendition of HMS Pinafore. Cute, maybe necessary to the plot, hell no. This movie seems obsessed with the works of Gilbert & Sullivan, music from Pirates of Penzance also makes an appearance.

   If you haven't seen this film, I'd recommend doing so. It's well done with some great acting and a decent if rather schmaltzy ending.




Alex Jowski said...

I remember watching this movie a LOT on cable throughout the 90s. Wasn't that bad as I recall. Good review.