The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1992 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time
105:52 minutes
(Not 111 minutes as stated on the packaging) 
Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 4 Director Curtis Hanson

Warner Home Video
Starring Annabella Sciorra
Rebecca De Mornay
Matt McCoy
Ernie Hudson
RRP $34.95 Music Graeme Revell

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 2.0
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    From what is a relatively simple plot emerges quite a well crafted thriller. Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra) is pregnant, and visits the doctor to have a check up. However Doctor Mott (Q ... sorry, John de Lancie) turns out to be a bit of a pervert and sexually molests Claire. After pushing by her husband, Michael (Matt McCoy), Claire reports Doctor Mott to the authorities, whereupon several other women also lodge complaints. Doctor Mott dutifully does the honourable thing and shoots himself, leaving behind his pregnant wife, and a few problems for his estate. Said wife loses her baby after a fall and plots a revenge, becoming Peyton Flanders (Rebecca De Mornay), the perfect new nanny for the Bartel's new young son and daughter six months later. What follows is a skilfully crafted, suspenseful build up, as Peyton gradually builds towards the elimination of the woman who, to her somewhat loose cannon of a mind, is responsible for the death of her husband and baby and therefore (in the best eye for an eye tradition) should give up her own. Along the way a handyman from the local intellectually disadvantaged home, Solomon (Ernie Hudson) befriends the family, gets the bum steer from the scheming Peyton and finally rescues the children from the slightly deranged Peyton.

    Actually, thrillers are not my cup of tea for entertainment, but this is not a bad one. Rebecca De Mornay is quite superb as the perfect nanny - from hell. The real star here though is Ernie Hudson who did a terrific job as the intellectually disadvantaged Solomon and is absolutely convincing in the role. Overall, it is difficult to fault the performances of the entire cast and this is very well directed by Curtis Hanson.

Transfer Quality


    Well, the inconsistency in their transfers continues and this time Buena Vista take a slight step backwards.

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, this is not 16x9 enhanced and at times it shows.

    The transfer is not especially sharp and the lack of clear definition is not helped by the lack of enhancement; at times the picture has quite a grainy look to it. Shadow detail is not especially good, but probably suits the style of film quite well.

    The colours were consistently rendered, albeit quite muted. This is not a vibrant transfer and the overall feel of the film is quite dark and drab - which may well have been the original intention of the director.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noted, and video artefacts were restricted to some very minor aliasing, which was not especially distracting. Film artefacts were not very prevalent during the film and were not in the least distracting to the film.


    The audio transfer quite good given that this has not been given a 5.1 remaster.

    There are three audio tracks on the DVD, all being Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtracks: the default English, French and Italian. I listened to the English default.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, although the general level is quite low and most would probably need to up their normal audio levels a little for this film.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem with the transfer at all.

    The musical score by Graeme Revell was very good, and contributes well to the film. It is a fairly typical suspense type of score, thus lacks a little in individuality.

    The surround channels were reasonably well balanced, although there was not too much detail out of the rear channels - but then again, this is not a film that needs an awful lot of detail.

    The subwoofer was not used at all during the film.




    Slightly better looking than usual, but given the lack of even subtitle choices, of minimal value.

R4 vs R1

    Region 4 misses out on:     At least Buena Vista treat Region 4 with the same disdain as they treat Region 1 as far as 16x9 enhancement goes, so the choice is between the superior PAL system of Region 4 or a theatrical trailer - your call.


    The Hand That Rocks The Cradle is not the sort of film that I would choose to while away a couple of hours with, but for the fans of the genre, not a bad one to add to the collection.

    The overall video quality is reasonably good.

    The overall audio quality is reasonably good.

    We even miss out on the white paper note on this one!

Ratings (out of 5)

Extras say again?

© Ian Morris
17th September 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL