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The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)

I’ve had a right 90s thriller-fest this week!

On Tuesday night I finally watched Single White Female (1992) for the first time, and last night I watched another classic thriller that a lot of you mentioned in the comments of my SWF post.

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)

If you haven’t seen it, it’s another 90’s thriller starring Rebecca De Mornay (Risky Business), Annabella Sciorra (Cop Land), Matt McCoy (L.A. Confidential), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Julianne Moore (The Lost World: Jurassic Park) and Madeline Zima (Californication) among others.

This is what it’s about according to the internet:

“After being assaulted by her doctor, Claire Bartel (Sciorra) reports him to the police. Faced with prison for his crimes, the doctor kills himself. The shock of the accusations and suicide cause the doctor's pregnant wife, Peyton (De Mornay), to have a miscarriage. Driven mad with rage, Peyton poses as a nanny for the Bartel family. Her plan: to tear Claire's life apart, seduce her husband (McCoy) and eventually murder the woman she blames for ruining her life.”

I don’t know how many of you actually read these posts. I know they’re long but I like to give you my thoughts on the films I watch rather than just a generic “review”. Anyone can do that.

If you didn’t read my Single White Female post (I doubt you’re reading this one either) you wouldn’t have read that it was a toss up between that movie and this one on Tuesday night, and your recommendations of this film were purely coincidental. Either way, I’m glad I watched it and I appreciate the recommendation all the same.

Like Single White Female this film thankfully lived up to my expectations (and maybe even exceeded them). It was a lot more sinister than I was expecting and there was much more to the story than I’d expected.

A few of you in the comments on Facebook made reference to the part of my post where I talked about my discomfort when watching tense scenes in movies. You said that this was full of them and you weren’t kidding!

I thought Rebecca De Mornay was excellent as Peyton Flanders! Her character is so manipulative and creepy and you genuinely feel her hatred for Annabella Sciorra’s character, Claire (by the way, that examination scene at the hospital at the beginning was extremely uncomfortable to watch).

So much of De Mornay’s performance in this movie is in her eyes and the looks she gives, and it’s incredibly effective! She’s got the “psycho stare” down to a tee.

I also thought Ernie Hudson was very good as Solomon, although at first I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about his performance as a mentally challenged guy. I think sometimes when you’ve seen an actor play the same kind of role so many times, and then they do something completely different, unless it’s an Oscar winning performance it’s hard to buy in to. His character was so likeable and sympathetic that I found myself going along for the ride. I also loved how his character was redeemed later on in the film.

I can see why this movie was such a hit when it came out all those years ago. It plays on a deep fear a lot of us must have regarding the protection of our kids, and it does it with great success. Much like Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character in Single White Female though, there are obvious reasons why both turn out how they do. While Jason Leigh’s character, Hedra’s issues go back to childhood, De Mornay’s character, Peyton is out for revenge. At certain points throughout the film you really feel her grief from losing her baby and even feel some sympathy for her despite her sinister intentions.

The fact that a film made 30 years ago can still be as enjoyable and effective all this time later is a real credit to both the story and the filmmaking. It’s like the saying goes, “they don’t make em’ like they used to.”

I definitely recommend this if you like a good thriller made at a time when films were just…better. I loved it!

Seen it? Let me know in the comments.


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