The Guardian
directed by William Friedkin
(Universal, 1990)

A great many B-grade horror movies are predicated upon the assumption that people will make stupid decisions in scary situations.

In The Guardian, the climactic assumption is that a young and fit couple, when menaced by a woman who wants to steal their baby, will flee a bustling Los Angeles hospital packed with potential witnesses and rescuers to take refuge in a dark and empty house. When a bad thing happens there -- in this case, their suburban home is beset by wolves -- the hapless dad will of course choose to run with his infant into the dark and stormy woods that just happen to connect to their backyard.

Based on Dan Greenburg's novel, The Nanny, The Guardian is about a hot English nanny who also happens to be the immortal guardian spirit of a big-ass tree deep in some forest in the Los Angeles suburbs. To keep the tree, and presumably herself, alive, Camilla (Jenny Seagrove) first cares for, then steals 4-week-old infants, just when their blood becomes both adult and innocent -- hey, I didn't write this stuff -- and she imbeds the babies in the tree.

For this movie, she's after Jake, newly born son of Phil (Dwier Brown) and Kate (Carey Lowell). Now, the film would have us believe Phil and Kate are barely making ends meet, but they can afford a huge house with its own forest and a live-in nanny. Go figure. Their neighbor Ned (Brad Hall) is apparently some famous architect, but all he really wants to do is nail the nanny -- but really, he should have known better than to follow her into the woods. Heck, I shouldn't talk, Ned's calamitous blunder leads to the film's only truly suspenseful scene.

I can't bring myself to recommend this one ... unless you really, really have a strong desire to see Jenny Seagrove nude and/or covered in bark.

review by
Tom Knapp

16 January 2010

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