Andrea’s Angle | “Nanny” – Beautiful and Strange
I was wildly interested in Nanny. It looked unusual and different. I also have found Anna Diop mesmerizing in other performances. With an intriguing cast and an interesting premise, I hoped the film would be as compelling as the cast. When I watched the screening, I found Anna Diop mysterious and engaging. The film’s story had a fascinating blend of African religion, horror, and real-world issues, and the ending was heartbreaking, beautiful, and strange.
Nanny is a horror film written and directed by Nikyatu Jusu in her directorial debut. In the film, undocumented Senegalese immigrant Aisha (Anna Diop) becomes employed as a nanny to save up money to bring her son, who she had to leave behind, to the United States. While caring for her charge, Rose (Rose Decker), for her parents, Amy (Michelle Monaghan) and Adam (Morgan Spector), she also tries to piece together a life, including dating Malik (Sinqua Walls) but struggles with issues getting paid as well as odd disturbances while caring for Rose. She finds herself having to confront a concealed truth that threatens to shatter her precarious American dream.
One of the elements I liked the best about this film was the use of African religion and mythos that are incorporated into the story. The story does a beautiful job of blending those elements into the horror and also weaving in the real-life struggle of an immigrant in the United States attempting to get by and save enough money to help her family. The immigrant aspects were authentic and believable. The issues that Aisha dealt with were also believable. Within the film, Aisha has to deal with Amy, a rich, entitled woman who overworked and underpaid her, treats her like a servant, doesn’t pay her on time, and doesn’t even keep enough food in the house for her own daughter. Blending those real-world problems with supernatural aspects created a mysterious and chilling effect.
The supernatural elements slowly ramp up, but rather than follow traditional jump scares, the fear is developed more from the psychological elements than from terror. And the use of African storytelling, such as Mami Wata, is a creative change in horror. The subtlety makes the audience question if the horror is in Aisha’s head or if it is happening, especially as it becomes more intense and at the culmination of Aisha’s pain. The ominous elements and Aisha’s immigration status create a tension that is unique to this film.
The performances are incredible. Anna Diop is magnetic as Aisha, her performance compelling and painful yet graceful. She embodies the character, illustrating how her character finds a place in the world despite her employers. Michelle Monaghan’s performance is sharp, brittle, and edged with all the right elements to contrast with the delicacy of Anna’s acting. Morgan Spector demonstrates his ability to convey subtle emotions, such as love for his daughter, but also the more pervasive racial tolerance seen in white society. Sinqua Walls has wonderful chemistry with Anna Diop and a warmth that contrasts well with Morgan Spector.
The film does run slower than most horror films, and since it isn’t set up as a traditional horror movie, that aspect might derail audiences expecting that type of film. However, I liked the subtle performances, the mix of African culture, and the psychological elements. They drove the film, creating a beautiful and strange aspect of the movie.
If you like Anna Diop and films with supernatural elements, I think you’ll like this film. The mix of African culture, immigration and race issues gives the film a non-traditional strangeness and chill. The performances are brilliant, especially from Anna Diop. And the ending is heartbreaking but also impactful and beautiful.
Rating: 4 out of 5 waves
Official Website: Nanny
In this psychological horror fable of displacement, Aisha (Anna Diop), a woman who recently emigrated from Senegal, is hired to care for the daughter of an affluent couple (Michelle Monaghan and Morgan Spector) living in New York City. Haunted by the absence of the young son she left behind, Aisha hopes her new job will afford her the chance to bring him to the U.S., but becomes increasingly unsettled by the family’s volatile home life. As his arrival approaches, a violent presence begins to invade both her dreams and her reality, threatening the American dream she is painstakingly piecing together.
NANNY is currently out in select theaters, opens in Phoenix on Friday, December 2, 2022, and launches on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, December 16, 2022.
ONE-LINER: Immigrant nanny Aisha, piecing together a new life in New York City while caring for the child of an Upper East Side family, is forced to confront a concealed truth that threatens to shatter her precarious American Dream.