Picks and Pans Review: The Guardian

updated 05/14/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/14/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Jenny Seagrove, Carey Lowell

She's a sweet-looking nanny with a British accent. But if Seagrove summons up any animal friends, they won't be cute, animated birds and butterflies; they'll be drooling devil dogs. And she's less likely to break into a chorus of "Super-Cali-Fragi-Listic-Expi-Ali-Docious" than she is to feed a baby to a tree.

That's right: man-eating trees, yet another reason to be nice to the rain forests.

A routine horror movie aimed at every parent's worst nightmare—babynapping—this is a professional, if humorless, example of the genre, taken from Dan Greenburg's novel The Nanny. Seagrove (A Woman of Substance), as the baby-sitter who has a super-natural deal going with the forest, is a fine actress; Lowell (Licence to Kill) is effectively dowdied up as a distraught mom.

It's puzzling, though, why William Fried-kin is still directing this kind of thing 17 years after The Exorcist. By the end of this film, he seems to have lost interest. As Dwier Brown, playing Lowell's husband, goes into the woods to graphically illustrate the phrase "tearing limb from limb," the mind wanders. To carnivorous vegetables of the past: The Thing, The Day of the Triffids, Swamp Thing. To the broccoli menace. To the idea that no director older than 30 should make a horror film, just as you don't see many baseball rookies near that age. (R)

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