Metacritic (2/10), Letterboxd (1/5), Imdb.com (2/10)
When it comes to making a movie (especially one in the suspense, thriller or horror genre), there’s a big difference between “nuanced” and “obscure.” And, when it comes to writer-director Nikyatu Jusu’s debut feature, it’s an offering that more often embodies the latter than the former. This tale of a Senegalese immigrant nanny caring for the young daughter of an upscale New York couple follows her pursuit of starting a new life in America, a venture intruded upon by an array of strange, sporadic, inexplicable, underdeveloped hallucinations, nightmares and other paranormal experiences in what amounts to one of the most unsuspenseful thrillers I’ve ever screened. Indeed, this film’s attempt to elevate what’s supposed to be a horror offering to a purported higher level of artistry and sophistication largely falls flat due to glacial pacing, disjointed and extraneous story threads, overly subdued and unexplained imagery, and a largely predictable, underwhelming payoff that just doesn’t merit the time and attention it requires to make sense of it all. While the picture features some imaginative cinematography and editing, along with a capable lead performance by Anna Diop, it’s nevertheless sorely lacking when it comes to a compelling narrative and cogently written script. Despite its Independent Spirit Award nomination for the Someone To Watch Award and its National Board of Review designation as one of 2022’s Top 10 Independent Films, “Nanny” fails on countless fronts. But I suppose that shouldn’t come as any surprise these days given the unremarkable state of this once-venerated film genre. Horror films just ain’t what they used to be, and this one again proves just that.