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The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is a 1992 American thriller about a vengeful nanny out to destroy a naïve woman and steal her family.
Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra) is pregnant with her second child. At a routine checkup, Claire is molested by an obstetrician, Dr. Victor Mott (John de Lancie), and when Claire tells her husband (Matt McCoy), the couple decide to report the incident to the authorities. Four more women come forward to corroborate the Bartels' story and Dr. Mott commits suicide.
Dr. Mott's widow (Rebecca De Mornay), after losing her child from the stress of her husband's suicide, vows revenge on Claire's family, and sets herself up as a nanny that the family hires, not yet knowing her true identity. Now calling herself Peyton Flanders, Mrs. Mott begins working covertly to bring the family down.
…is the trope that rules the world:
- Alias Mrs. Mott Calls herself "Peyton Flanders" in order to get the nanny job in order to start her revenge plan
- Ax Crazy: Mrs. Mott
- Babysitter From Hell
- Blondes Are Evil: Mrs. Mott, obviously. Also doubles as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
- Chekhov's Gun: The wind chimes at both houses. The baby monitor, which saved the baby. Mrs. Mott had used it throughout the movie to eavesdrop on the Bartels.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Solomon
- Convenient Miscarriage: Kicks off Mrs. Mott's plot.
- Creepy Physical: Claire's doctor molests her during a physical examination, leading her to file charges and kicking off the events of the movie.
- Disney Villain Death: Literally, since this is in fact a Disney movie (via their Hollywood Pictures division).
- Not played totally straight, though; we see where the victim lands, and it's on a picket fence.
- Evil Is Sexy: If it's Rebecca Demornay
- The Fake Cutie: Mrs. Mott.
- Frame-Up: Mrs. Mott considers it convenient to get rid of Solomon, so she steals the panties of her employer's five-year-old daughter and plants them in his room. With this "evidence" in place, she starts accusing him of pedophilia. At the end, he goes Papa Wolf to protect the baby when Mrs. Mott assaults Claire.
- Gambit Roulette: Mrs. Mott's plot to ruin Claire's life.
- Idiot Ball: Marlene holds it firmly in her hands when she reveals to "Peyton" that she knows who she is, prompting Mrs. Mott to lure her to her death. It's especially bad considering that she's been suspicious of "Peyton" from the moment they met.
- Then Michael picks it up by going downstairs to check on the loud radio music coming from Mrs. Mott's room. Run like hell! He gets a concussion and both legs broken for his trouble.
- Ill Girl: Claire suffers from asthma and repeated attacks throughout the film. Leads to an inverted Chekhov's Skill when she fakes an attack in order to throw Mrs. Morr off guard.
- Infant Immortality: Averted hard with Mrs. Mott's baby. Subverted with Claire's baby Joey, whom she nearly smothers before thinking better of it and instead deciding to take over Claire's life.
- Magical Negro: Solomon. Despite being mentally handicapped, he's suspicious of "Peyton" as well, and even after being fired (thanks to Mrs. Mott convincing Claire that he's molesting her daughter Emma), he continues to hang around the house, ultimately playing a key role in saving the family, and his reputation, during the final confrontation.
- Manipulative Bastard: Mrs Mott.
- No given name: Mrs. Mott.
- One-Scene Wonder: John Delancie as Dr Mott.
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else: The good-looking Motts--he's a sexually abusive pervert using his position as a physician to molest women, while she's a vengeful madwoman (even if one can argue that she was driven mad by the near-simultaneous loss of her husband and unborn child).
- Also all her money and her home and anything else she has due to the lawsuits against her husband.
- Unwitting Pawn: Claire, oh so much.
- Villain Protagonist: Mrs. Mott is arguably the focus of the film, despite being the villain.
- Yandere: Mrs. Mott, a particular frightening one.