Horror Movie Review: The Guardian (1990)

The Guardian’s major selling point is that it is directed by William Friedkin, the director of the original Exorcist who also co-wrote it with Dan Greenburg and Stephen Volk. The former of those two is also the author of the book the movie is based on called The Nanny.

Sounds great right? Well, no. The Guardian had a troubled production, with the script undergoing changes well into the shooting process. The final product would see Friedkin attempt to disassociate himself from it. A critical and commercial failure, somehow it has gained a cult following.

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I say ‘somehow’ because The Guardian is so boring that it’s more likely to put a person to sleep.

The movie begins by explaining that ancient druids worshipped trees, sometimes offering them human sacrifices. However, some of these trees were connected with evil rather than good.

We are then shown the sacrifice of a baby to a tree by the nanny entrusted with caring for the child.

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Three months later, Phil (Dwier Brown) and Kate Sterling (Carey Lowell) are introduced. A young couple who are about to have their first child. Both have jobs and wish to continue working so decide to hire a nanny.

See where this is going?

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After whittling down the candidates to two, one is killed in an accident leaving Camilla (Jenny Seagrove) as the only remaining choice. Phil and Kate hire her to look after their new-born son, Jake.

Camilla quickly becomes indispensable to the household & from the couple’s perspective she is the perfect nanny. However, the viewer is left in no doubt of her intentions particularly during the violent and gory scene of three attackers being killed.

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Camilla is the same nanny from the start and she is looking to sacrifice Jake to the tree. Her plan would work perfectly if it wasn’t for Phil being contacted by someone who knows the nanny’s true past. With his suspicions already high, thanks to Camilla’s seductive nature, Phil is just looking for a reason to get rid of her. The question is will Camilla go quietly?

By time The Guardian gets to its finale, you won’t care if you’ve managed to stay awake. A tough task as so much of this film is padding it doesn’t need. It’s not as though we’re dealing with complex or interesting characters here, far from it.

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It’s hard to really blame the acting for the bland & boring characters, although that is often fairly rotten too. Instead, no effort is put into making them anything but mundane people going about their mundane lives. Sure, that might be accurate but this is a film about a blood-hungry killer tree and a shape-shifting woman who sacrifices babies to it! Surely, a little more imagination could have been used!?

It’s hardly a complex story but it tells it in such a convoluted way that it leaves you frustrated. Every conceivable surprise moment is laid out lazily making it easy to predict and just as disappointing when revealed.

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If it wasn’t for the more violent moments & flashy visuals this would be one of the worst horrors ever but thankfully these moments momentarily lift things. Some of the effects are really decent but that’s about it.

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The Guardian
  • 4/10
    The Final Score - 4/10
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