The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (1992)


Summer blockbuster, 21 years ago-style!

When Claire gets groped by her gynecologist, Dr. Mott, she and her husband Michael file sexual harassment charges. Other women come forward and do the same, which results in Mott committing suicide, leaving behind his pregnant wife, Peyton (Rebecca De Mornay), who in turn, miscarries their baby. Hellbent on revenge, Peyton masquerades as a nanny to get close to Claire in an effort to ruin her life. And then things get really ridiculous…

I feel like scientists and inventors around the globe gathered together in a concerted effort to ensure the events of this 1992 suspense never came to pass, because 21 years later, there is no way this dogpile of a film could ever be remade.

For one, if a woman walks up to you on the street and says, “Hey, I’m a nanny, and I heard you need one,” you aren’t going to invite her into your home for one dinner, then let her move into the house to watch your newborn. Yet this is EXACTLY how the movie plays out. Sure, in 2013, a 10-second Google search would have yielded some proof that Peyton was a liar at best, and at worst, a sadistic bitch, but in 1992, Claire never thought to get references from this chick? Give me a break.

TANGENT: When I was a kid, Rebecca De Mornay had this brief moment of being super hot. At least that’s how I remember it. Looking back, her head is bulbous.

Not to mention that the high-profile sexual harassment case against Dr. Mott was all over the news BEFORE he shot himself, you’d think his wife would have been photographed or interviewed at some point? Again, in 1992, it’s harder to find that photographic evidence, but in 2013, it would be all over Twitter.

In fact, Claire and Michael’s friend, Marlene (Julianne Moore), eventually stumbles onto Peyton’s true identity using microfiche at the library (whaaaaaaaah?), which I found pretty funny, only reinforcing how dated this movie is. Marlene, eager to help her in-danger friend, immediately calls Claire’s house (from a car phone with a cord!), and essentially tips Peyton off that the jig is up. You know, instead of calling the police, or pretending everything is okay until the family is safely out of Peyton’s grasp. Again, in 2013, Marlene could have called Claire directly on her cell phone, avoiding the stupid “I know who you really are” conversation she has with the sadistic Peyton.

Hi. I know you’re a bad person, and now you know I know. BTDubs, I’ma swing by. Cool? Seeya in 10.

Other in-story hiccups that trip up our protagonists throughout the movie would also be purely avoidable in 2013. Michael and Marlene covertly meet at a bar to plan a surprise party for Claire, who has been duped (AGAIN) by Peyton into thinking an affair is going on. Today, Mike and Marly can plan that party via email, eliminating the are-they, aren’t they subplot.

Peyton also rips up an important business proposal of Michael’s, which Clair was supposed to deliver via Federal Express. (Not FedEx. Federal Express. The old wordmark is hilarious.) In 1992, that crippled Mike’s career. In 2013, he’s just gotta print out the back-up of his files and re-mail them tomorrow.

To be fair to the movie, I can’t really say its not good because it’s inapplicable two decades later. I can say its bad because it made no sense the second it was released. I already established that Claire is an idiot for not checking Peyton’s references, and she’s doubly stupid for needing a live-in nanny at all for the sake of building a greenhouse in her backyard. The stupidity is tripled when she wonders why her baby Joey is only placated when he’s with Peyton, his caretaker for 99% of the day.

Speaking of the greenhouse, Marlene’s death is preposterous. PREPOSTEROUS. The glass on the roof shatters, and it cuts her to death. I guess. She was bent forward with her arms up over her head, but broken glass falling from 8 feet above her managed to bleed her dry.

And here’s the thing that really drives me batty. Claire herself figures out Peyton’s true identity, and after delivering a sweet right cross, she and Michael really put the hammer down, telling Peyton to get out. They DEMAND her set of keys, and offer to mail Peyton her clothes.

Forgot to mention Peyton physically assaults and threatens this kid AT SCHOOL. Even 7 years before Columbine, no way this stupid brat doesn’t tell someone and it causes a massive shitstorm.

I get that they have no idea how evil Peyton really is just yet, but its obvious that the wife of the man who committed suicide after you ratted him out is OUT TO GET YOU. This idiot family didn’t even lock the doors after Peyton left! Honestly, they deserved to have baby Joey taken from them. The smartest people in this entire movie are their four year old daughter, Emma, and the mentally challenged handyman, Solomon (the esteemed Ernie Hudson, who deserves much better).

Naturally, Peyton comes back to steal away the kids, but Claire pushes her through the attic window, sending Peyton tumbling to her death and ruining the fence Solomon just finished painting. So after this entire ordeal in which Claire has been deceived, resulting in two deaths AT HER HOUSE and the attempted kidnapping of her children, what does she do? She tells Solomon to hold her baby while she checks on Michael. All that stress and danger, and your motherly instincts are so devoid that your first post-adventure decision is to give your baby away?

Claire, you are a terrible mother.

FINAL RATING: I’m giving an extra Netflix star here solely for the laugh factor, which was obviously unintentional, but entertainment is entertainment.
Netflix: 2 Stars

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2 thoughts on “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (1992)

  1. I have a soft spot for trashy ’90s melodrama-thrillers like this. Give me this, Cruel Intentions, Single White Female… sure, they’re not good films, but they’re the right kind of trash. Even if, as you point out, they make next to no sense if you think about them for more than a couple minutes! 🙂

    1. I’m definitely not without my love of terrible things, so I get it. Maybe if I saw this when it came out, I’d have a soft spot for this one.

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