This isn’t a horror movie.
Nanny is a film that I’ve been meaning to watch since I saw the trailer a few months ago, but it just released on streaming within the past week or two. Yet another Blumhouse movie, this time with limited theatrical release, Nanny is available on Amazon Prime for Prime Video subscribers, which is how you know it’s good. I’ve come to understand that you can generally gauge the quality of a Blumhouse release based on what streaming service it appears on first. If it’s an Amazon release that’s the top notch, a Shudder release is roughly what you would expect from Blumhouse, and Hulu is where the lowest confidence films get dropped like Bingo Hell.
As is common with Blumhouse movies, Nanny is the directorial debut of Nikyatu Jusu. Starring Anna Diop as Aisha, an immigrant from Senegal who picks up work as a caretaker to a rich white family in order to eventually bring her son to the country. She’s working for Michelle Monaghan who plays Amy and is basically aging into being typecast as every Karen-esque mother role. Morgan Spector is here as well to play Adam, the white dad who is white and a dad. Rose Decker plays Rose, a kid whose won’t eat garbage white people food and really likes spicy Senegalese food, because she clearly hasn’t inherited her mother’s sense of taste.
Nanny is shockingly subdued for a Blumhouse “horror” movie and I’m hesitant to give it the title of horror film at all given there’s very little in the way of trying to scare the viewer. It’s tense, sure, and there is more drama than CW writing room, but it never feels like it’s setting out to scare the audience. There’s moments of tension and you can tell there’s skill and craft in how Jusu works both the camera and the sound design, but overall it’s kind of a jumbled mess of half-realized ideas. It’s almost like the team kept experimenting with pitches for plot beats, got about halfway through each one, and then moved on to the next and forgot to come back by the time shooting was finished.
Which isn’t to say the film is incompetent, just incomplete. The last fifteen minutes of the film feel like a very hasty method of closing out the story and wrapping things up, and the whole movie feels like it really doesn’t start until after the 80 minute mark of a 100 minute film. There’s very obvious themes of race relations and fetishization of African culture in this clearly post-Get Out film that the movie doesn’t explore all that well. But it never feels lazy or uninspired, and definitely doesn’t feel like it’s trying to elevate the genius of its writer/director above the actual content.
Is Nanny a good movie? It’s not terrible. But it feels like incomplete work. Like we need a director’s cut and a few reshoots to figure out the complete story that was supposed to be told.