An Infusion of Diversity Into the Horror Genre
Nanny, a Sundance U.S. Grand Jury Prize film festival Dramatic award winner, introduces its audience to a great cast of talent. A limited number of films gain entry to premier festivals like ABFF, Cannes, Sundance, and Toronto, and even fewer win an award. Nikyatu Jusu (writer/director), is the first woman of African descent to win this award at Sundance in 2022.
Nanny is in great company considering past winners at these premier festivals that address the African reality of living in America since landing in Jamestown. This tells all viewers worldwide to keep both the cast and writer/director on their radars because these stars are about to shine bright in Hollywood.
Nanny’s cast has joined the likes of such films as: Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation, 2016 Sundance award winner, Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station, 2013 Sundance winner, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, a Toronto festival winner that introduced the world to Lupita Amondi Nyong’o as Patsy, 2014 Oscar winner. And, we cannot leave out John Singleton’s (producer) and Craig Brewer’s (writer/director) Hustle & Flow, a 2005 Sundance winner. A movie that catapulted DJ Qualls, Taraji P. Henson, Taryn Manning, and Terrence Howard onto the A-list stage by telling the world “It’s hard out here for Pimp” or any person of African descent.
The Foundation to a Backstory
Nanny has the flavor of Hustle & Flow’s banging hook and the stylistic “Congo Blue ” cinematography filter shot similar to Belly (1998). The opening scene perfectly lights Anna Diop (Aisha) and shows the beauty of her hues. As it brings to life the forgotten African mythological spider that made the middle passage transAtlantic slave trade journey that gets continuously highlighted with the “Congo Blue” camera filter motif.
It is something special to watch, but before hitting play, in the words of Jay-Z, “This is a Public Service Announcement, sponsored by [west African folklore]… Allow me to reintroduce [ourselves, our names are Anansi and Mama to the Wata. Now before I finish, let me just say].”
If you don’t wanna get lost as a viewer and escape this story’s world of suspended disbelief, you should understand Nanny’s mythical backstories. The hidden powers of Kathleen (Leslie Uggams), an African Priestess, Anansi the Spider God, and Mama Wata (Niahlah Hope and Stunt Double) because the power of Nanny’s plot resides with the African Ancestors.
This basic knowledge is no different than following the backstory of any psychological-suspense horror thriller like Count Dracula’s Transylvanian folklore beginning.
The Nanny follows Aisha, a Senegalese immigrant struggling in New York City to earn enough money to pay for her son’s and friend’s airfare from West Africa. The story excellently shows that as much as things have changed, they still have stayed the same for Africans living in America.
Nanny overtly reveals that the only things that have changed are the players on the auction block, the institutions’ bidders, and the job titles. It shows that Black people are still just surviving the “American Dream”.
Nanny is a story of a new beginning, struggles with loneliness, the innocents of childhood, new love, haunting fear of evil consumption, the horror of scary – mythological creatures, loss of family, and a rebirth all rolled up into a structurally sound storyline.
The Creeping to Edge of Seat
Nanny’s suspense and horror resides in its escalating threat from the opening scene. Fear of the supernatural lurking in Aisha’s shadows brings to life the psychological thrills of her escaping the suffocating reality of drowning.
Aisha’s survival continues to heighten with the creeping sound of running water that flows into some blood.
If you are a blood freak seeking a movie full of gore this may be a hard pass for you. The Nanny is not that type of movie because it is a modern-day film in all aspects.
Nanny had a limited theatrical release and is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime Videos.
However, if you are a movie/film fanatic, historically speaking this is a must-watch because Sundance winners usually move on to do great things in the film industry.
Always keep in mind this is just one viewer’s option of a piece of work that its creators poured sweat, tears, and some blood to complete. The creation of any work of art is the ultimate achievement, and should never be marginalized by a critic’s words.
Nanny (2022) Official Prime Video Trailer