A ten year old boy, Joey, is released from a rehab center after two years and returns to live with his family. His mother is suffering from depression, his father is always away from home and his nanny…well, his nanny hides a number of secrets, including what really happened to Joey’s little sister…
The Nanny is a dark thriller from Hammer Films starring Hollywood legend Bette Davis at the beginning of the “Horror Hag” stage of her career. Eschewing Hammer’s usual full colour gothic blood and breasts style for a more contemporary (at the time) and restrained monochrome aesthetic, The Nanny is a fairly disturbing psychological drama with just enough twists and turns in the plot to keep the viewer engaged. The performances are all top notch with a particularly subtle turn from Davis in a portrayal that is nuanced enough to make her sympathetic and not a one-note comic book villain. Kudos must also go to William Dix as Joey; for once a young child in a movie manages to be both believable and non-irritating, a rare feat indeed.
The direction by Seth Holt and cinematography by Harry Waxman set the film apart from Hammer’s regular melodramatic horrors and is much more akin to a bigger budget Hollywood production; both glossy and stylish yet still disturbing enough to send a chill down the spine. With a main plotline involving the killing of children and a back-story which touches upon back-street abortions this is definately a drama written and produced for adults and still manages to intrigue and entertain a modernday audience as long as they are willing to accept a slower, more measured pace than most of todays over-the-top fright flicks.
Review by Richard Gladman
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