Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1990s Hand That Rocks the Cradle, The (1992)

Hand That Rocks the Cradle, The (1992)

Disney moved in on the quick-buck slasher market with this disarmingly tacky rip-off of Fatal Attraction (1987) and every crazed-nanny flick ever made.

There’s no telling how Uncle Walt would have reacted to the opening scene in which pregnant Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra) – who has just moved to Seattle with husband Michael (Matt McCoy) and young daughter Emma (Madeline Zima) – visits her new gynaecologist, Dr Mott (John de Lancie).

The doc props Claire up in the stirrups, sends his nurse on an errand, squeezes Claire’s breasts while talking about the weather and then – in a truly squirmy moment – lasciviously slips off his glove to insert a finger for a vaginal probing.

First-time screenwriter Amanda Silver shows an uncanny knack for tapping into women’s fears. And we haven’t even got to the nanny yet.

The nanny is Peyton Flanders (Rebecca De Mornay), Claire’s dream of a mother’s helper – sweet, pretty, gentle with Emma and new baby Joe. Claire needs time so that she can build a backyard business growing herbs.

What Claire doesn’t know is that Peyton is the widow of Dr Mott, who killed himself after Claire brought charges against him. Now the vengeful Peyton, who miscarried after the scandal, plans to take over Claire’s life.

Claire’s realtor friend Marlene (Julianne Moore) warns her to “never let an attractive woman take a power position in your home”, but Claire plays dumb until she notices that her children and her husband are growing distant.

When Solomon (Ernie Hudson), the mentally impaired handyman, catches Peyton breastfeeding baby Joe, she gets him fired by putting Emma’s panties in his toolbox. “Don’t fuck with me, retard,” she says. Indeed.

DeMornay’s Peyton is a deranged dynamo and it’s a crackajack performance, but the slice-and-dice climax may leave you wondering what the hell happened to the wonderful world of Disney.

Claire Bartel
Annabella Sciorra
Peyton Flanders (Mrs Mott)
Rebecca De Mornay
Michael Bartel
Matt McCoy
Ernie Hudson
Marlene Craven
Julianne Moore
Emma Bartel
Madeline Zima
Dr Victor Mott
John de Lancie
Marty Craven
Kevin Skousen
Mitchell Laurance
Roth (school yard bully)
Justin Zaremby
Joey ‘Joe’ Bartel
Eric Melander
Jennifer Melander
Ashley Melander

Curtis Hanson