The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992)

Genre: Thriller

Cast: Annabella Sciorra, Rebecca De Mornay, Julianne Moore

Synopsis: A mother decides to let a crazy bitch in her house to handle her children.

In the contest for worst movie parent ever there are many contenders: Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest, Jack Nicholson in The Shining, Piper Laurie in Carrie. In my mind, Annabella Sciorra in The Hand that Rocks the Cradle would rank quite highly. The mom in the Home Alone movies would come first. Seriously, who forgets their child and goes on holiday? TWICE. Either way, the reason why Sciorra ranks so highly is because she is willing to pawn off her children onto the hands of people who are clearly not in any position to be looking after kids. She practically throws her kids at a deranged lunatic and then, as if she hasn’t learned from her mistake, passes them off to a minstrel with mental retardation. Why? So she can build a sodding green house.

A lot of the pleasure from this movie comes from shouting at the screen as the absurdity unfolds in front of your eyes. Watch in amazement as Sciorra lets a woman look after he kids without receiving any resume or references. She could have been a crack head for all she knew. In fact, a crack head might have been better under the circumstances. I don’t understand how she couldn’t tell ‘Peyton’ wasn’t unhinged. She was so over the top and histrionic and all this bad stuff happened like the day she moved in. Shit gets real when ‘Peyton’ has what can only be described as a ‘crazy-off’ with the mentally handicapped handyman who seems to be the love child of Sean Penn in I am Sam and the crows from Dumbo. I couldn’t tell if Ernie Hudon was trying to play the handyman as a mentally disabled person some kind of bumbling minstrel. It made for a few laughs.

The only character in this film who seems to have her shit together is Julianne Moore who convincingly plays the savvy and intelligent friend of the stupidest couple alive. I can’t understand why she hasn’t won an Academy Award yet, although this movie isn’t really her best work. She is undoubtedly one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood today. Anyway, I digress. Her character serves as a direct contrast to Sciorra’s. While Moore is suspicious, inquisitive, and gets stuff done, Sciorra just has asthma attacks. Even when she finally confronts Peyton with a knife she still looks as though a light breeze would knock her down. It’s so frustrating. Her kids are in danger and she does nothing but she manages to spring into action when the handyman is in trouble.

This movie isn’t one of the greats and don’t confuse it with something like Fatal Attraction which is, objectively speaking, the better ‘other woman’ film. However, there is a lot about this movie that can be enjoyed if you don’t take it seriously, which is rather easy given the progression of the plot. I would, however, recommend new or expecting parents to watch this movie as it will serve as a guide on how not to fuck up.

High-lights:

  • This movie encourages a ‘screaming at the screen’ mentality. It’s good to get that rage out.
  • The racism. I know I shouldn’t laugh but it was just awful…awfully funny.

Downers:

  • The opening 15 minutes have a couple of traumatic scenes that I was not prepared for. If anything, they made me glad I have a penis. My sympathy for women just sky rocketed.

Summary:

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is a pretty solid thriller, although not the best out there. It’s the sort of film that you’ll need to be engaged with: you need to have opinions on the characters and on what it is they’re doing so it’s probably best to watch this after taking a hit of a strain that’s going to keep your mind active. I don’t think the movie will be as enjoyable if you watch it in the midst of couch lock. If you’re looking for an amazing movie with compelling performances then stick to Fatal Attraction but if you’re looking for something to pass the time then this is not a bad choice by any means. It’ll definitely make you think twice before hiring any help though.

6.5/10

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4 Comments

Filed under Good, Thriller

4 responses to “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992)

  1. Rebecca De Mornay!!!!! ‘Nuff said. She is smoking hot in this one.

  2. I’ve always found this one to be underrated. It felt so strange and real. I remember being around 10 years old and having chills.

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