Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Guardian (1990)

Throughout the history of the horror genre, there haven't ever been too many terrifying trees. Oh, there have been some (that nasty bunch of pervy perennials in The Evil Dead movies and that twisted old thing in Poltergeist to name the only two I can think of off the top of my head), but by and large, trees don't instil a sense of fear and dread. Unless you're a huge Marc Bolan fan.

The Guardian is a story all about a deadly tree. Jenny Seagrove plays Camilla, a beautiful young woman who ends up being employed by Phil (Dwier Brown) and Kate (Carey Lowell) to look after their new-born son. What the new parents don't know, however, is that Camilla is a bit of a spooky Druid witchy woooooo type and she seeks out new-born children to sacrifice to a big tree. Yes, it's a standard "wolf in sheep's clothing" thriller wearing a cloak of magic.

Just what those involved were thinking is beyond me. Based on a novel by Dan Greenburg, Stephen Volk was the poor guy who tried to turn the laughable premise (which may have worked much better in the book, I don't know) into a decent horror film. With William Friedkin in the director's chair I'm sure that there was always some hope, however slim, of it all turning out well. Sadly, that wasn't the case.

It remains an entertaining movie, but for all the wrong reasons. Viewers can laugh as someone gets decapitated by a deadly branch or ogle the attractive Jenny Seagrove in the many scenes involving her not wearing that much clothing, if any. Dwier Brown and Carey Lowell (who obviously wanted a hit after Licence To Kill to save her from the fate of being "just another Bond girl) try their best, but by the time everything starts getting out of control it's hard to believe that both didn't have any earlier suspicions about the new, perfect nanny. Brad Hall is that thriller staple - the friendly face who stumbles on to the bad secret before the leads - and he's treated pretty badly by the script. Miguel Ferrer has a small role, Xander Berkeley pops up in the last reel in a small role and Theresa Randle has, you guessed it, a small role as one of the potential nanny candidates before Seagrove ensures her own placement in that position.

It's not dull, though it's not very lively either, and none of the set-pieces have the impact that they were obviously supposed to have, but it's not without its charm and I found myself enjoying it a lot more than I had any right to. I recommend that others give it a try, if only to allow me to continue maintaining the fantasy that I'm not the only one who sometimes enjoys such nonsense.


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