I originally saw The Guardian during its cinematic release in 1990 (or so) it was and probably still is somewhat derided as to its quality but I've always really liked the quirkyness of it.
The sumptuous Jenny Seagrove plays 'Camilla' a nanny come evil baby sacrificing guardian tree spirit moving from placement to placement practising her unorthodox approach to childcare whereupon she arrives at the home of a young couple with their newly born son Jake.
There are some nice touches throughout the film; the idea in itself is very novel, good use is made of a particularly imposing tree out in the woods that Camilla is the guardian of; there are some good slaying scenes involving said tree as well as a pack of wolves and by horror standards it is just fundamentally a fun experience to watch.
Saying that the production issues surrounding the film are evident; some of the lighting I've always thought wasn't quite right leading some woodland set scenes to look too much like a studio set. All the performances are fine and the contemporary Grimm fairy tale imagery that Friedkin was attempting to create works really well.
The only extras on this special edition are 3 relatively short interviews (between 15-20 mins) with, individually, William Friedkin, Jenny Seagrove and co-writer Stephen Volk.
The anecdotes provided are interesting. Friedkin relays a bad experience he had with a nanny and discusses 'The Exorcist' also as well as his aims, problems etc with the script of The Guardian. Interesting stuff.
Jenny Seagrove does not appear over enamoured with the film, despite endeavouring to be diplomatic she comes across as a bit critical of it and refers to her participation as a 'mistake' although as she admits she is no horror fan anyway. She seems a bit regretful that they didn't ditch the supernatural element and go with the straightforward evil nanny approach, even contacting an exec at Universal studios to pitch this idea and later lambasting him after 'The Hand that Rocks the Cradle' came out and was a hit a few years later. This is much better Jenny and you were great. Box office success is no indicator of taste!
The final interview with co-writer Stephen Volk is also very illuminating and highlights the problematic puppy that The Guardian was. During the writing process Volk did discuss with Friedkin whether they also should ditch the supernatural element and go with the psychological approach instead. Friedkin apparently agreed but Universal refused saying they wanted Friedkin of Exorcist fame to roll out another horror. Volk had to leave due to other committments and also to receive therapy whereby he discusses for months after how he had recurring nightmares of Friedkin flying over his house (in the UK) by helicopter speaking to him from a megaphone telling him to go back to Hollywood and finish the writing process!
It's really nice to see it again; 5 stars is a very personal appraisal but the fact that it has stood the test of time really well suggests its a better film than many of those associated with it felt post production.
on 9 April 2011
This unique and little-known horror-thriller from 'The Exorcist' director deserves to be seen for that reason alone, and for me it's a much better movie, not least cos it doesn't waste meandering time on ponderous exposition and dull excavations around religious imagery to try and prove evil exists, but gets on with its very own brand-and following the most excitingly varied horror-boom of the 80s, it brings us something totally new-a creepy, salacious and murderous tree-druid, courtesey of our very own Jenny Seagrove, who plays it to the hilt.
Starting with the prologue of a snatched baby, the film then winds its way to affluent and attractive young couple Carey Lowell and Dwier Brown, first time parents who are looking to engage a nanny, and for anyone fearing a hired stranger's intentions, this piece of celluloid will not suppress your fears. But it is horror entertainment first and foremost and this should not be forgotten.
Bit by bit the nanny's true intentions get a little clearer, but there are any number of decent jumps, some delightfully excessive gore scenes, a charged Macbethian atmosphere and much suspense. When a character, intrigued by nanny leaving a warm, inviting house for a trek across a field to the woods on a windy, uninviting night, a real shock should await the audience, even moreso as the tracker (whom we'd be yelling at not to follow her in the first place) actually makes it back to the house alive, no mean feat as it was some trek to and from.
The imagery is sublime and luscious, camerawork jolty at all the right moments, and the make-up competent, and nicely-tuned, believable performances make the quite fantastical plot necessarily fraught, not least cos losing your baby to a being you thought you could trust IS a worthwhile fear; yet it's the delightfully creative fable around it that delivers the horror. And any film introducing a wolf-pack gets a howl of contentment from me.
Best horror of 1990 along with 'Tales From The Darkside'then, but unlike the 80s, horror would sadly go into virtual decline, till 'Scream' brought it back six years later, though one could argue it may not have returned to former glory at all; after all a slasher is only one sub-genre of horror, and never the best either.
While 'Exorcist' devotees may find little to love with 'The Guardian', some should feel loyal (or at least still interested in the director enough) to check this out, even if on a smaller and far less hyped scale, though a no less worthy one. For other horror lovers, unimpressed or unaware of 'The Exorcist' link, grow find a branch of a ne tree you haven't climbed before, you could find this one well worth the shinny up and down.
This is a baby to snatch!
on 17 January 2013
Another of those caring nanny isn't who she seems films. It reminded me of a cross between The Evil Dead, with the trees & The Omen/Hand That Rocks the Cradle with the seemingly caring nanny actually being a bit loopy.
The film starts with nanny Diane sacrificing baby Leah & we then move on three months in the future when, now calling herself Camilla, she gets a job with a new family & it all starts again.
It was a lot gorier & there was a good deal more blood than I was expecting but this doesn't take anything away from the film. I found it a bit patchy in places & sometimes a bit farcical, especially near the end. It's nothing that hasn't been done before but it's an OK watch.
on 9 July 2013
I already have the original Anchor bay release of this film from 2000
which only has an audio commentary track by William friedkan as an extra
but Second sight films a U.K. DVD Distributor finally reissued this film
so I knew I had to buy it
and you get all new interviews with Jenny seagrove and also interviews with William friedkan
and the writer of the film aswell plus the Audio commentary by William friedkan from the Anchor bay release
all brand new interviews are very in depth about 15mins long
William friedkans is longer
the picture and audio quality on this second sight films version is excellent
the audio is remixed into 5.1 surround sound better than the Anchor bay version
the picture is really good quality Widescreen better than the Anchor bay version
any fan of this film or William friedkan's movies
that have the 2000 Anchor bay version, you might aswell get rid of it
cause it's definitely time to upgrade to this all new second sight films reissue
better picture and audio quality than the Anchor bay release no doubt about it.
you won't be disapointed
on 1 February 2015
Jenny Seagrove at one time Michael Winner's live in lover plays a woodland nymph living in a huge oak tree sacrificing babies to the tree god.In normal situations you would not tumble to her hidden real identity as she can assume the form of a "normal" human.At one stage she is followed into the forest by three of the local thugs who try to rape her but she dispatches them efficiently.The next family from whom she tries to kidnap the baby for sacrificial purposes realise what is about to happen and discover her true identity.I won't reveal the ending as you will have to watch the movie yourself.This is one of those almost forgotten horror movies which I last watched on tape during the eighties and what a pleasant surprise to watch this again.Print and transfer quality is clear and sharp as also the sound.Highly recommended.
on 3 August 2013
William Friedkin is an amazing director with classics like the Exorcist and Killer Joe under his name, The Guardian was made in 1990 and is one of his best, a strange and supernatural story about ancient druids and tree worship and evil, directed very well with a great cast especially the lovely Jenny Seagrove as the guardian, its creepy throughout and has some nice little gore moment and some nudity, this is one of his smaller movies back at the time but it's a cult classic now and a must see, the special edition DVD is very good quality and there are bonus interviews with Jenny and Friedkin.
on 27 August 2013
Although most other reviewers have also given a plot summary/rundown, I will also contribute briefly. The film starts with a family leaving their two children in the care of their nanny, while they go off for an evening (or a weekend, I can't recall which). The woman forgets something, so they return home only to find the baby has been kidnapped by the nanny and has been sacrificed to a tree god/deity.
The film then moves forward a few months in time to a yuppie couple who have a child (we follow the pregnancy ever so briefly) and interview various nannies. They have to decide between two nannies and the one they favour (Theresa Randle) dies mysteriously in a bicycle accident. It is implied it was caused by the Nanny Guardian of the title. The Nanny is hired, appears extraordinary useful and helpful, the designer of the house (and now an apparent good friend of the family) takes a shine to the Nanny in quite a stalkerish way. When he stalks her one night he happens upon her true identity/form with the rubbery-looking tree, Cue lots of blood, violent deaths, some very early 90's ropey special fx (not that I mind those!) and an all round unconvincing story unfolds before your eyes and is over before you know it.
The acting was very dodgy, the sets were quite cheap looking and the story was just not that good. I was disappointed, having seen the author of the original story was also co-screenplay writer; I expected a better end result. In all fairness the shoddiness may be partly down to the studio, as the film feels like it has been badly edited/cut, with alot of scenes making zero sense or feeling particularly rushed. The atmosphere and a different sort of horror story are really the only two things going for it. I have a real appreciation for older horror films and in particular those from the early 80's to early 90's. This film was just a major let down after having read all the praise on here. The whole assault of the Nanny by the 3 thugs was really poorly acted to the point you felt like you were watching some really bad amateur dramatics effort. Also the guy who stumbles upon the Nanny's true nature was more like a serial stalker/killer than any other character in the film. He was more or less hounding Camilla (the Nanny).
All in I'm very disappointed I wasted my time and money on this film. Although not one of the worst films I've ever seen, it is certainly right there on that list. I can't understand the other rave reviews on this film other than it is due to the involvement of William Friedkin (who incidentally disowned the film) who directed one of the all-time horror movie greats, The Exorcist. That aside the acting, special fx, editing, production and story are all woeful. I usually always bother with the special features on a DVD, but just ignored them with this one.
Not worth your time.
on 30 June 2011
The show is unusal and the cast bring it to life, Very entertaining and worth watching, Jenny Seagrove plays a very convincing role. A story different to watch and if you like thrillers and horrors its a must.
on 11 July 2014
It's not a great film lets face it and the 'special' edition turned out to be not that special. It's worth a watch and then a scan at the three shortish interviews to see how it was supposed to turn out.
If your expectations are low, then you will probably have an undemanding couple of hours entertainment- and great to see just how lovely Jenny Seagrove still is
on 31 January 2012
Directed by William Friedkin, this supernatural version of The Hand That Rocks The Cradle has some fun moments, mostly courtesy of Jenny Seagrove as the icily perfect and enigmatic nanny who's hired to look after the cherished baby of a hardworking L.A. couple.
However, it's not long before their friends and neighbours start to notice something's off with the nanny and fall foul of nasty accidents...
Dwier Brown and one-time Bond girl Carey Lowell are decent as the parents, but the script is an uneven mix of cliche and originality and feels like it was rushed through a rewrite, and then rushed through editing. Why? Well, considering the pedigree of its director, it's so badly edited at the start that Lowell appears to go from slim as a stick to 9 months pregnant in a week. There's no sense of time passing. Worse, before she's pregnant they discuss the door needs fixing as if it's an urgent task, and then their neighbour shows up to fix it - only for us to notice she's got a huge baby bump and is at least 6 months along. The male lead also experiences the typical predictable 'fantasising about sex with the babysitter' moment. The film is full of such astoundingly careless continuity and lazy scripting, and it's only saved by some considerable originality - namely that their good nanny is an evil tree-nymph who sacrifices babies to a huge ugly tree. As a result there are several unexpected and interesting set-pieces filled with original and often gorier than expected supernatural violence. The cat also gets let out of the bag sooner than expected about Seagrove's plans, and its interesting to see how its resolved. However, aside from that aspect and the interesting makeup effects involved, expect a reasonably run of the mill nutty babysitter drama.