The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Jan 10, 1992 (USA)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

There have been many movies about psychos invading the homes and overturning the domestic bliss of innocent families, but in the capable hands of Curtis Hanson, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle rises above most of its brethren. The film has the kind of determined pacing in which one scene leads logically to the next, gradually intensifying toward disaster, as Rebecca De Mornay's vengeful widow increases her secret stranglehold on the couple who accused her gynecologist husband of sexual assault, leading to his suicide. De Mornay's performance borrows heavily from a long tradition of wronged women turned crazy, but that doesn't make her any less steely eyed or chilling. Her anger is just below the surface, but the surface sure is sweet, which is what manages to win over the Bartels (Annabella Sciorra and Matt McCoy), despite an increased wariness following their experience with the gynecologist -- which they believe to be unrelated. Constructed as a string of set pieces, the film offers some memorable ones, including a deadly rigged greenhouse and a scene involving expired aspirators that asthmatics won't soon forget. Sciorra and McCoy also turn in strong performances, struggling with a deterioration in their quality of lives that they can't pinpoint, and Ernie Hudson is very touching as a mentally challenged handyman whose mistrust of De Mornay comes back to haunt him. This is hardly a consequential film, but for a taut addition to the thriller genre, it's pretty entertaining stuff.