Guardian (The)
R2 - United Kingdom - Second Sight
Review written by and copyright: Neil Bray (19th September 2011).
The Film

Another film from 1990, and another film I used to own on VHS. This one I know I bought ex-rental when one of our local independent video stores was closing down. I bought it sight unseen because Jenny Seagrove was in it; and Iíd liked her in A Woman of Substance and Diana. Well, I was in for a bit of a shock. This was definitely not the Jenny Seagrove I was used to seeing!

Flash forward twenty-one years and the film finally comes to DVD in a Special Edition. When I heard I was getting this to review I was really pleased; but it also made me question why it wasnít one of the few VHS tapes I kept in my attic (hoping for some way of transferring them onto DVD at some point). Now Iíve watched it again, I know why I didnít keep it: itís actually a pretty awful film.

Everything on paper should work: youíve got William Friedkin directing (The Exorcist) and a cast of up-and-coming attractive young actors, making a film about baby-stealing and an evil nanny. So, why does everything fall apart? Honestly, I think itís largely down to the film (or director) not knowing what it wants to be. Is this a horror? A thriller? A dark fairytale? None are entirely correct but there are elements of all in the finished product.

All the actors do the best they can with the ludicrous material and itís a testament to Jenny Seagrove that she was able to keep a straight face given some of the things she had to do in this film (most notably the tree-foreplay scene which is both utterly silly and uncomfortably erotic).

There are moments when the film seems to get its act together and delivers a few pretty good chills and moments of tension and a surprising amount of gore; but these are few and far between. And, when the film eventually does reach its climax itís a bit of a disappointment.

Evil nanny stories are nothing new, but it is the whole supernatural element which stands ĎThe Guardianí apart from others in the genre; but not for good reasons. The casting of Jenny Seagrove is a great idea: after all, who would ever suspect a soft-spoken English rose of sacrificing children to a living tree?

Having said all that, Iím actually pretty glad I got to watch this again; and I shall probably watch it again in the future. What I canít do is recommend this to anyone else to watch unless A) You like crappy horror, or B) You want to see Jenny Seagrove naked, or C) Horny trees do it for you.

Video

Presented anamorphically in 1.78:1 ratio, this release actually has a very good picture. There are a couple of moments where the picture looks a little soft; but nothing unexpected on a DVD nowadays. Colours and blacks are very good.

Audio

Only an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is available here. There are no subtitles. Nothing to really say about this track. Itís perfectly adequate for a stereo track. The film itself doesnít really require anything more. Dialogue is always clear and there are no fluctuations in the quality.

Extras

Return to the Genre: An interview with Director William Friedkin (17.23) Ė Why I made the film...blah, blah, blah...the inspiration was....blah, blah, blah...Iím so dull and think Iím wonderful...blah, blah, blah. A typical fluff interview that bored me stupid; and I took an instant dislike to Friedkin.

The Nanny: An interview with star Jenny Seagrove (13.21) Ė talking at length about trouble with the script, how the film morphed into something different during filming, how badly received it was by audiences and critics, but also how much fun she had making it. Very entertaining stuff.

Donít Go Into the Woods: An interview with co-writer Stephen Volk (20.58) Ė Talking openly about the writing process and the difficulties he had working with William Friedkin and how he was affected psychologically by the whole process. Overall a pretty interesting interview.

Overall

Over the top and underwhelming, this is a bit of a mess. Watch it if you like horror films generally or are a real film fan and want to see William Friedkin make a total mess of things!

The Film: B Video: B Audio: C Extras: D Overall: B

 


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