The Hand that Rocks the Cradle 1992 Movie Scene Rebecca De Mornay as Peyton wearing only her nightgown and standing next to a fridge

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle [1992]

Making the most out of perceived suburbia fears, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is a solid nineties psychological thriller. The first few opening minutes literally go down the list of everything housewives were afraid of back in the nineties. Now, having watched the entire movie, I still don’t know what to think about some of the subplots. They’re at the same time clumsy, and offensive but also very effective. At least when you’re building this sort of story. So, we find ourselves in the American suburb once again, following Bartels, a typical white American middle-class family.

I know, I know my friends I don’t like any of this too but more about that later. What was the American dream will soon turn into a nightmare, as you might have expected it to do. One of the best things about this movie is the lack of any fluff. The story keeps moving at a fast pace, especially considering the genre. There will be a bit of melodrama, nostalgic melodrama to be precise. However, some of these scenes are just unintentionally funny. Although The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is a movie about a family, it’s deliciously deviant.

And that feeling is amplified by Rebecca De Mornay’s stunning performance. Each scene with her was a true treat making this seemingly mainstream thriller into something much more. Annabella Sciorra and Matt McCoy were also good and we will get the chance to see young Julianne Moore in her first major movie role. Despite the fact that there’s not much nudity here, the atmosphere was sexually charged at times. I can already hear all the nineties dads screaming “I wouldn’t mind” at the screen during some of the scenes.

I already talked about some of the questionable subplots and one of them revolves around Solomon, a mentally challenged guy played by Ernie Hudson. Shit man, Ernie was just too smooth for this type of role although I think that this whole subplot is incredibly stupid. I mean, I see where they were going with it but still…

Claire, Michael, and their daughter Emma are loving their suburban life. Everything is going well and on top of that, Claire is pregnant again, this time with a boy. One day, she goes to her obstetrician for a routine check-up that ends badly. This puts in motion a series of events that will push this happy family to its limits.

There’s not much mystery in the plot here. We all know what is going on, who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys. The only question that remains is how all of this is going to actually play out. And that generates loads of suspense and tension. I just can’t get over how Rebecca De Mornay was good here. Man, I keep seeing her in her nightgown offering to “fix me something” in the middle of the night. I wouldn’t mind some beer and a couple of joints, you know?

If you want to see her in something more recent do check out Mother’s Day. Or you can check out Roger Vadim’s ill-fated remake of And God Created Woman from 1988 for a more alluring experience. The original from 1956 is a much better movie plus it has Brigitte Bardot. Towards the end of The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, I kept thinking, you know what, good, fucking kill ’em all! 

I know this is wrong and that they’ve done nothing wrong falling into middle-class off a tree but I couldn’t help myself. I think this is a large part of the appeal of this movie, watching their perfect fucking life getting wrecked. This brings us to the ending of the movie, which turned out quite predictable, awkward, and meek. At least Dead Calm went out with a bang. And I’m not even going to talk about Blue Velvet. So, those are some good recommendations if you’re looking for movies to watch after this one.

Director: Curtis Hanson

Writer: Amanda Silver

Cast: Annabella Sciorra, Rebecca De Mornay, Matt McCoy, Ernie Hudson, Julianne Moore, Madeline Zima

Fun Facts: After Rebecca De Mornay didn’t get the part of Tinkerbell in Hook [1991], she decided to go for edgier and darker roles. This quest led her to this movie.


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