Director – William Friedkin
Cast – Jenny Seagrove, Dwier Brown, Carey Lowell, Brad Hall, Miguel Ferrer, Natalia Nogulich, Pamela Brull
Release Year – 1990
Reviewed by John of the Dead
William Friedkin made a name for himself with his demon opus The Exorcist, and because of that I had always been curious to check out his “other” films, which lead me to this 1990 effort. Once again giving us a supernatural film we are provided with a much tamer experience than The Exorcist, and one that despite fair direction at times ultimately suffers due to a boring and uneventful storyline.
When Phil and Kate seek a nanny for their newborn son Jake they are immediately sold on Camilla, a lovable young English woman with experience and a knack for young children. Camilla secures the job and soon moves into the home, marking a turning point in young Jake’s life where he will become her newest sacrifice via an ancient druid ritual.
I am a fan of horror films that involve rituals of all sorts, which lead em to assume that along with William Friedkin’s direction that I would enjoy this film, once again leaving me unsatisfied in the end. The storyline is one we have seen numerous times, but nonetheless I enjoyed the unique druid element involving worshiping trees (lol treehuggerz lol) and sacrificing children to appease to appease their god, which is the driving force behind Camilla’s ways. The problems with the film start early, giving us poor characters that were each unlikable and poorly written – starting with the moronic Phil and Kate and boiling over to Camilla, an antagonist that I wanted to like but was too boring to provide me with such enjoyment. We do get some decent horror at times, namely one scene involving the family’s neighbor, Ned, who learns of Camilla’s secret and suffers greatly for it, but aside from that the horror was low and rarely present throughout this 92 minute experience. Despite all of this I did find some lulzy joy in the closing sequence involving a large sacrificial tree and a chainsaw, a scene I had never seen before in the genre and one that involved the most gore the flick had to offer – a nice way to close out a film that otherwise mostly sucked.
William Friedkin’s direction could have possibly saved this piece, but that was a far stretch given how bad the story was. His execution was positive in some ways, giving us great atmosphere and awesome visuals during the nature scenes, as well as perfectly executing the scene with Ned that I mentioned earlier – a truly scary scene that I highly enjoyed. Sadly his actors gave poor performances and his execution of anything character-oriented was blander than vanilla, ultimately making for a directorial effort that he failed to properly execute on multiple levels despite the film being doomed from the start story-wise.
Overall, The Guardian is a film that could have possibly been a better watch had the storyline provided more horror and less stupidity. Friedkin’s direction was far from enough to save this piece from the doom committed by its writers, making for a film from a well-known director that I suggest you avoid.