The Guardian (1990 film)
Promotional film poster
|Directed by||William Friedkin|
|Produced by||Joe Wizan|
|Screenplay by||Stephen Volk
|Based on||The Nanny by
|Music by||Jack Hues|
|Cinematography||John A. Alonzo|
|Editing by||Seth Flaum|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release date(s)||April 27, 1990|
|Running time||92 minutes|
The Guardian is a 1990 American horror film directed by William Friedkin, and starring Jenny Seagrove, Dwier Brown and Carey Lowell. A cable television version of the film was credited to "Alan Von Smithee", indicating that Friedkin wished to disassociate himself from its release. The film is based upon the novel The Nanny by American novelist and writer Dan Greenburg.
Plot summary 
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (June 2012)|
The opening cards explain that ancient druids worshiped trees, sometimes offering them human sacrifices. Some of these trees were connected with evil.
At the Sheridan home, Molly and Allan head off on a trip, leaving their two children in the care of their nanny, Diane. Once alone and with the children sleeping, Diane kidnaps the daughter. Molly realizes she left her glasses at the house, and upon returning sees that her daughter is missing. Diane, out in the forest, approaches a giant, old, gnarled tree, and holds up the baby, which then disappears from her hands. The roots of the tree show the baby's face, as it has been sacrificed to keep the tree alive. As Diane sits on the ground near a pool of water, her reflection disappears, leaving that of a growling wolf.
Three months later, Phil and Kate Sterling move to Los Angeles, where Phil has gotten a job with an advertising agency. Kate reveals to Phil that she is pregnant; they have a baby boy, whom they name Jake. They decide to hire a nanny so that both parents can continue to work. They interview a number of candidates recommended by the Guardian Angel agency. Two seem most suitable: a young woman named Arlene Russell and a caring British woman named Camilla. Later, Arlene is riding down a winding hillside when, suddenly, she hits a pothole and flies off her bike, rolling down the hill to her death.
Camilla is hired and quickly becomes an invaluable member of the household, to the point of treating her like family. However, one night, Phil has a nightmare where he sees a wolf attacking Jake. Later in the day, Camilla and Jake are outside when two drunken men attack and chase Camilla into the forest, joined by a third. After knocking Camilla to the ground, the third man slashes her side, and as they attempt to rape her the tree behind them begins to rumble. It comes alive and uses its branches to eviscerate the three men, eating one of them. Camilla sits on a branch above the ground, cradling the baby, while wolves devour one of the men. A giant spike impales the last man, before he is engulfed in flames.
Kate and Phil throw a dinner party, attended by Ned, their neighbor and the architect of the house, and Phil's bosses from work. During dinner, the conversation turns to Camilla, and how wonderful she is to have around. Later in the evening, Ned, who has taken a liking to Camilla, invites her to his house the following evening; she politely declines. Phil dreams of having sex with Kate, who suddenly turns into Camilla.
The following night, Kate helps Camilla get dressed up for some window shopping in town. After she leaves, Ned arrives with a bouquet of flowers for Camilla. Kate encourages him to go after Camilla; Ned hops into his truck and catches sight of Camilla heading into the forest. Ned follows on foot, and eventually finds her bathing in the creek. Suddenly she vanishes, reappearing on the giant tree. As she lies naked on a branch, she begins to fuse with the tree bark. Ned is discovered by the pack of wolves, and flees back to his house. While trying to call the police, his phone cuts out. After locking all the doors, he calls Phil and Kate, and leaves a rambling, panicky message about what he saw in the forest. The wolves break into the house; Ned runs into the living room and sees Camilla, naked and ashen, on the hearth. She tells him: "You shouldn't have followed me." Ned tries to make a last stand in the basement, but the wolves attack and rip him apart. Camilla drags Ned's body away, and magically makes all traces of his death disappear.
Phil wakes up in the night and sees the answering machine beeping. The first message is from a stranger, Molly Sheridan. After leaving her phone number, she says that it is urgent she and Phil speak. As Phil begins to hear the message from Ned, Camilla enters and tells Phil he needs to look at Jake. She points out that he looks pale, and Phil insists they call a doctor, despite protest from Camilla. The following day, Phil goes to the Sheridan house, meeting Molly and her son Scotty. Molly describes the disappearance of her baby daughter and how the police cannot seem to find the nanny Diane, nor any evidence that she even exists. She begs Phil to arrange for her to see Camilla, suspecting she is really Diane. Returning home, Phil searches the house for Camilla. Finding no one, he listens again to the message Ned left, warning Phil and Kate not to let Camilla back into their house. Phil rushes over to Ned's house, and finds the door wide open, but no one inside. At home, he finds Camilla sitting on the couch with the baby, and asks her where she was. Saying she had taken the baby to the zoo, Phil demands to know why she had not taken Jake to the doctor. He plays Ned's message for Kate, and confronts Camilla. He tells her that he tried calling her references, none of which exist, and that he met Molly Sheridan, whose baby was abducted a year ago by a woman from Guardian Angel. He also checked with them, to find out that while Camilla is registered, she was not recommended to the Sterlings. As Phil throws Camilla's things into her trunk, Kate says there is something wrong with the baby. They take him to the doctor, who tells them he is displaying coma-like symptoms.
At the hospital, Jake awakens, and Phil rushes off to find the doctor. Camilla suddenly appears in the hospital room. She tells Kate that the baby needs her, and she him. She then tries to leave with the baby, when Phil blocks her path. He grabs Jake and knocks Camilla to the ground. The Sterlings leave the hospital and head home, to find a wolf standing guard inside. As they slam the door on it, more wolves surround them. Fleeing around the back of the house, Kate and Phil become separated when Phil makes her close the gate behind her. Kate screams to Phil that they want the baby. She gets into her Jeep and manages to escape the attacking wolves. Phil, who has taken Jake and hidden in the woods, is followed by Camilla. He runs as Camilla rises into the air and floats after him. Kate drives to the forest as Phil finds his path blocked by a giant tree;, Camilla is about to strike when Kate hits her with the jeep. As Phil looks over Camilla's body on the tree, he sees all the faces of previous babies which have been sacrificed to it.
Kate and Phil decide to leave the house for good. Phil takes a chainsaw and goes looking for the tree. Back at the house, Kate is attacked by a part-tree, part-human Camilla. As Phil approaches the tree, it wraps a branch around his leg. Using the chainsaw, he slices the branch, which begins to bleed. Camilla chases Kate onto the stairs, and grabs her ankle, causing Jake to fly from her arms onto the upstairs landing. Phil begins attacking the tree itself; as he does patches of skin start to fall of Camilla as well. Camilla drags Kate down the stairs and throws her into the living room. As Camilla approaches Jake, Phil chops off a large branch from the tree, causing Camilla's entire leg to sever from her body. Kate, seeing this, rushes upstairs, pushing Camilla out the window. As she falls towards the ground, the tree begins to fall and explodes before landing, killing Camilla as well. Phil arrives back at the house, and finds Kate holding Jake.
The TV version of the film ends with Phil and Kate returning home from the hospital with Jake, while Camilla is alive and naked at the tree.
The video and DVD versions have the full ending, in which Camilla appears in her true form and tries to take the baby from Kate, but Phil cuts down the tree with a chainsaw, thus killing both it and Camilla.
- Jenny Seagrove as Camilla
- Dwier Brown as Phil Sterling
- Carey Lowell as Kate Sterling
- Brad Hall as Ned Runcie
- Miguel Ferrer as Ralph Hess
- Natalia Nogulich as Molly Sheridan
- Pamela Brull as Gail Krasno
- Gary Swanson as Allan Sheridan
- Jack David Walker as Punk #1
- Willy Parsons as Punk #2
- Frank Noon as Punk #3
- Theresa Randle as Arlene Russell
- Xander Berkeley as Detective
- Ray Reinhardt as Dr. Klein
- Jacob Gelman as Scotty Sheridan
The Guardian earned mostly negative reviews from critics, and holds a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film one star out of four and later named it as one of his "Most Hated Films". The villain, Camilla appears in Boogeymen: The Killer Compilation
See also 
- The Guardian at the Internet Movie Database
- The Guardian at AllRovi
- The Guardian at Box Office Mojo
- The Guardian at Rotten Tomatoes