A handsome young couple finds the perfect live-in babysitter to look after their newborn child. It seems like a fairy tale, until ancient, supernatural forces turn the couples dream into a nightmare. In his first horror film since The Exorcist, Oscarinning* director William Friedkin spins a terrifying tale based on every parent's worst fear. Jenny Seagrove (Local Hero) portrays the enchanting guardian who enters the home of new parents Dwier Brown (Red Dragon) and Carey Lowell (Licence to Kill) possessing impeccable references and an affinity for children. But as her true intentions are revealed, the battle for the child's soul begins in this chilling film based on Dan Greenburg's popular novel, The Nanny.
In the film, THE GUARDIAN, Phil Sterling, an ad designer for an advertising agency has just recieved a new job, so with his wife Kate, they move to Chicago to Los Angeles. The Sterlings get settled in, and it isn't long before Kate reveals to her husband that she is expecting. The story movies forward a bit, to a time that the couple interviews nanny candidates. They contact an agency called "Guardian Angel", and from there, interview a number of candidates. They narrow it down to two women, Arlene Russell, and Camilla Grandier. However, when Arlene mysteriously dies, the Sterlings are left with Camilla - which is fine with them, seeing as Camilla has more than enough credentials for the job. Initially, she seems perfect for the job, very loving, and very handson, with the baby, whose name is "Jake". However, as time progresses and as the weeks go by, it seems as though Camilla grows more and more obsessed with the child. Little do the Sterlings know, is that her obsession has a much deeper purpose. Because as it turns out "Camilla" is in secret, part of a religious order of druids, whom worship trees. It is a worship which sees trees become the focal point, so important that the druids offer up sacrifices in the form of 4 week old children to the trees, for the trees to live. Camilia has an unseen track record of doing such, in which the British woman, poses as a Nanny, in order to get close to a child. The Sterlings are just her next victims. If there is any hope left for the Sterlings, in order to save baby Jake, they must ultimately go to the source of the supernatural, a mysterious tree, which is tucked away within the nearby woods.
THE GUARDIAN, a film released in 1990 was marketed around the fact that it was Director William Friedkin's first foray into Horror since shocking the world with THE EXOCIST in 19773. Loosely based on the 1987 novel THE NANNY written by Dan Greenberg,THE GUARDIAN attempts to give us what every parent fears - harm to their children, and it does so in the form of sort of an adult fairytale. It is a fairy tale fantasy, which is centered around a strange type of religion that worships trees. And it is one, whose devotees will stop at nothing to please their idols, Yes, even human sacrifice. That is what we have here in THE GUARDIAN. In the film, a mysterious woman, calling herself "Camilla Grandier" comes into the lives of the Sterlings, Phil and Kate as their nanny. At first things seem ok, that is until it is revealed that Camilla has strange motives. She is secretly waiting for the baby to reach the age of 4 weeks, so that she may offer it up as a sacrifice to her beloved tree, to give it more life. In comparison THE GUARDIAN is a lot like THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, which would release only a few years after. But while that film was purely straight forward and realistic, this film blends realism, with straight out fantasy. It is kind of silly, yes, but it is one that is able to safely hide behind its idea of calling itself a "fairy tale". Although it has never been officially called a fairy tale, that is what it has been coined as over the years, because after all, it just makes sense. It draws many paralels with the fairy tale "Hanzel and Gretel", and uses it as a reference point at multiple points in the film, so that kind of aids that notion, along with the film's more visual moments.
THE GUARDIAN is a film that was a troubled production and endured many script rewrites, even well into shooting, and it shows. Although the film starts off relatively understandable, as the film progresses, both the plot, and it's elements drift off of the straight and narrow a bit, as things take on a more supernatural, fantasy driven feel. Before it is over, we have trees that kill, and nannies who are part tree and part woman. We are not quite sure exactly how things end up that way. but they do, and the film rolls with it. It's not a great film, in fact, Roger Ebert called it one of his most "hated films of all time". Personally I won't go that far, however. It has become a cult film with a following, and it is completely understandable as to why. As a film, it is decent entertainment. While the film may not be great, it has enough about it to be a little fun. To me, the most entertaining aspect of THE GUARDIAN is indeed the special effects, We have a killer tree, that essentially becomes a villain, as it kills, and rips people to shreds. Later, we also have wolves ripping people apart. The effects are really effective and fun to see, so in turn it steps the film up a notch in terms of enjoyment. Altogether the end result, is somewhat enjoyable, but indeed strange.
THE GUARDIAN is one of those films that you just pop into the player and watch it, because if you over think what is going on, its many flaws will become apparent. It is clear that Friedkin was aiming to recreate the type of Horror here that he had created with THE EXORCIST prior, but with this project it just wasn't meant to be, too much confusion and too many last minute changes, led to a film that just didn't add up completely. But it has it's moments, and those moments make the film worth seeing at least once.
SCREAM FACTORY releases THE GUARDIAN on Blu-Ray for the first time, and it looks and sounds good on the format. Included is a commentary, a series of 8 interviews, a still gallery, and the film's Theatrical trailer.
Some details about the included interviews are as follows :
A Happy Coincidence with Dwier Brown (21m 56s)
Actor Dwier Brown talks about working with Friedkin earlier in his career, and then getting the role in THE GUARDIAN. He touches on things such as working with Director William Friedkin and his many quirks, the cast, as well as the film's special effects.
From Stasberg to THE GUARDIAN with Gary Swanson (10m 10s)
Actor Gary Swanson talks about studying with Lee Strasberg, and his break out performance in VICE SQUAD. He then talks about getting the part in THE GUARDIAN, and working with William Friedkin.
A Mother's Journey with Natalija Nogulich (11m 33s)
Actress Natalija Nogulich mentions how William Friedkin discovered her while she was working on a play off Brodway, and how that let to her be subsequently cast. She goes on to talk about things such as working with Friedkin, Dwier Brown and Gary Swanson, as well as overall fan reaction to the film.
Scoring THE GUARDIAN with Jack Hues (6m 40s)
Composer Jack Hues talks about getting the job scoring THE GUARDIAN, and then what his influences were while scoring the film.
A Mother's Journey with Natalija Nogulich (13m 07s)
Effects artist talks about going from working on TV's "Alien Nation" to the feature, THE GUARDIAN. In also goes on to detail the ends and outs of the film's effects as well as the ever-changing mind of Friedkin
Return to the the Genre with William Friedkin (17m 25s)
Director William Friedkin recalls making THE GUARDIAN, from it's origin, casting and more. He also talks about things such as, of course, THE EXORCIST, to the types of Horror films that he enjoys.
A Mother's Journey with Jenny Seagrove (13m 19s)
Actress Jenny Seagrove talks her early beginnings as an Actress and the eventually getting the role of the nanny, "Camilla Grandier" in THE GUARDIAN. She then goes on to explain her working experience on set with the cast and crew, as well as having to wear all of that body paint through out the film.
Don't Go into the with Stephen Volt (21m 00s)
talks about reading the novel that the film was initially based on, original Director Sam Raimi, and how the script changed a great deal once William Friedkin came on to Direct. He talks about the first version of the story he had, and hoe it vastly differs from the finished project. This interview sheds insight into the production's many problems. At one point they didn't know what kind of film to make, but at the demand of the studio, UNIVERSAL, they stuck with a supernatural story, as they wanted to capitalize on Friedkin and THE EXORCIST.
5.5/10 Bodies ripped and torn to shreads by a tree which springs to life. They attack also renders an impalement. One is also torn apart by wolves. There are also several other bloody wounds.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
Overall, as I said, THE GUARDIAN is decent enough entertainment, yet, the script has no real sense of direction. The idea as to why it is that Camilla is doing this is not fully backed up. We just have a little understanding of it, although it makes little sense. It would seem that even the writers weren't sure about what to do with this story. But I suppose it is what it is. It isn't bad. but goes nowhere near above good. Still it's worth checking out. just because.
Special Features include :
- NEW A Happy Coincidence - An Interview With Actor Dwier Brown
- NEW From Strasberg To The Guardian - An Interview With Actor Gary Swanson
- NEW A Mother's Journey - An Interview With Actress Natalija Nogulich
- NEW Scoring The Guardian - An Interview With Composer Jack Hues
- NEW Tree Woman: The Effects Of The Guardian - An Interview With Makeup Effects Artist Matthew Mungle
- Return To The Genre - An Interview With Director/Co-writer William Friedkin
- The Nanny - An Interview With Actress Jenny Seagrove
- Don't Go Into The Woods An Interview With Co-writer Stephen Volk
- Still Gallery Of Behind-The-Scenes Photos