The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is the quintessential 1990’s psychological thriller. It’s about a widow who blames her dead husband’s suicide, and therefore her miscarriage, on a specific woman who she’ll drive crazy until she feels she’s had her revenge. She infiltrates her family, using ruse and charisma, until she has manipulated just about everyone. Of course, she's not going to stop there...
This is a simple film that doesn’t require much concentration. The story is spoon-fed and the characters aren’t complicated. They have interesting connections to each other; just enough for Peyton, the evil nanny, played by Rebecca De Mornay, to screw with everyone’s mind. De Mornay’s character is so diabolical that she actually makes the main protagonist irritating and not at all pitiful.
The film has a catchy score it plays many different ways and always at key moments. There is virtually no gore in this. There are no slow moments, per say; the procedurals are short, to the point, and both in the third act. Women, and in particular new mothers, this film will be particularly hard on you. Female characters are prominent. Men take the back seat.