The Nanny Review

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A ten-year old boy, Joey (Dix), recently released from a juvenile asylum, hates his nanny. Far from delusional, the sprog is the only person who sees 'The Nanny' (Bette Davis) in her truly disturbing light.


A Hammer Horror about a nanny? True, it’s a hard sell, but everything about this film, from Bette Davis’ inspired casting as the nefarious unnamed nanny, through the spot-on depiction of a nuclear family gradually falling apart, to the unsettling finale is as fresh as the first drop of Technicolor blood Hammer dripped onto celluloid. Director Seth Holt avoids the red stuff here in favour of subtler intoxicants; paranoia, twisted sympathies and enough distilled hatred to bring Mary Poppins (1964) back down to earth.

The source of the film’s deeply disturbing feel is the nanny. Though we see her feeding some pigeons as the movie opens and though the forlorn family see her as a Godsend, young Joey knows her past is a murky one. Here Holt toys with us, eking out sympathy for the nanny thanks to the sheer obnoxiousness of Joey, a horror of a ten year old. Queerly, nagging suspicions about the nanny pale alongside this brattish distraction so that when Davis’ dormant evil rises to the surface, we – and, most likely, our stomachs - are in knots.

A brave attempt at hauling Hammer into the psychoanalytic era, the film leaves a memorably unpleasant taste behind.