The Guardian Reviews

  • Oct 20, 2020

    A young couple have their young baby snatched away from them and offered as a human sacrifice to an ancient tree to prolong it's life by the infant's nanny. We then see a short time later the Druid nanny from Hell starts new employment caring for another couple's child. This tautly and stunningly beautiful film was director William Friedkin's first excursion into the horror genre again after that low-key film that he directed in 1973 that no-one ever talks about anymore. Just kidding. Friedkin's first horror movie after The Exorcist was bound to garner much press and this film did. It was also predictable that any film that wasn't as genre-defining and revolutionary as The Exorcist would provide howls of derision and bad reviews which was the fate for The Guardian. I refuse to think of any film directed by William Friedkin to be irredeemably bad or massively flawed. And this truly is the case with The Guardian. Amazingly directed, beautifully shot, pinpoint perfect performances (a big shoutout goes to Jenny Seagrove as the anti-Mary Poppins) and you have a taut 1990 film that has more positives than negatives. If anything is lacking it's maybe the generic source material and the constant re-writes that affected the film. But it's interesting to see such a great director working on strictly genre fare and seeing what happens. This reminds me of Martin Scorsese directing Cape Fear and seeing what he could do within such parameters. The horror scenes are great and the buildup of tension is lovingly established. The film establishes the feeling of placing the well being of your baby into someone else's life and that someone turning out to be a nutjob (if only the film had ditched the supernatural element and made it about a psycho nanny instead. This film could have been to childcare what Jaws was to sharks). The loss of control and the erosion of some of the most precious parental boundaries are fully explored here and the result makes for a very chilling film. Time has been very kind to The Guardian. It's established a fanbase and isn't the disaster some critics would have you believe it was at the time. In fact, it's a very good movie.

    A young couple have their young baby snatched away from them and offered as a human sacrifice to an ancient tree to prolong it's life by the infant's nanny. We then see a short time later the Druid nanny from Hell starts new employment caring for another couple's child. This tautly and stunningly beautiful film was director William Friedkin's first excursion into the horror genre again after that low-key film that he directed in 1973 that no-one ever talks about anymore. Just kidding. Friedkin's first horror movie after The Exorcist was bound to garner much press and this film did. It was also predictable that any film that wasn't as genre-defining and revolutionary as The Exorcist would provide howls of derision and bad reviews which was the fate for The Guardian. I refuse to think of any film directed by William Friedkin to be irredeemably bad or massively flawed. And this truly is the case with The Guardian. Amazingly directed, beautifully shot, pinpoint perfect performances (a big shoutout goes to Jenny Seagrove as the anti-Mary Poppins) and you have a taut 1990 film that has more positives than negatives. If anything is lacking it's maybe the generic source material and the constant re-writes that affected the film. But it's interesting to see such a great director working on strictly genre fare and seeing what happens. This reminds me of Martin Scorsese directing Cape Fear and seeing what he could do within such parameters. The horror scenes are great and the buildup of tension is lovingly established. The film establishes the feeling of placing the well being of your baby into someone else's life and that someone turning out to be a nutjob (if only the film had ditched the supernatural element and made it about a psycho nanny instead. This film could have been to childcare what Jaws was to sharks). The loss of control and the erosion of some of the most precious parental boundaries are fully explored here and the result makes for a very chilling film. Time has been very kind to The Guardian. It's established a fanbase and isn't the disaster some critics would have you believe it was at the time. In fact, it's a very good movie.

  • Sep 28, 2017

    I loved this movie it was a great plot and lots of mystery.

    I loved this movie it was a great plot and lots of mystery.

  • Jun 01, 2016

    blegh. I can't believe it's taken me this long to watch this, and that I've anticipated it this long. It's rather lousy. I'm trying to think of something redeeming about it, but it's rather bland. There were some cool gory kills...

    blegh. I can't believe it's taken me this long to watch this, and that I've anticipated it this long. It's rather lousy. I'm trying to think of something redeeming about it, but it's rather bland. There were some cool gory kills...

  • Dec 27, 2014

    William Friedkin's first horror film after "The Exorcist" is decent, it's just not "The Exorcist". A young couple with a newborn discover their live-in nanny is some sort of tree worshiper who periodically requires a baby to sacrifice to retain supernatural powers. Surprised by the amount of blood splattered here at the end when the tree is cut down.

    William Friedkin's first horror film after "The Exorcist" is decent, it's just not "The Exorcist". A young couple with a newborn discover their live-in nanny is some sort of tree worshiper who periodically requires a baby to sacrifice to retain supernatural powers. Surprised by the amount of blood splattered here at the end when the tree is cut down.

  • May 17, 2014

    Is there a lower rating?

    Is there a lower rating?

  • Alex r Super Reviewer
    Jan 24, 2014

    Mediocre horror film directed by William Friedkin, I found The Guardian to be a boring affair, one that was void of a truly engaging story, good cast, and memorable scares. The idea might have been interesting, but the script itself feels like it has way too many weak points to really make the plot standout, therefore the film is just a disappointing effort from a director who has crafted some terrific films. Friedkin can't seem to direct something worthy here, and you are left wanting more out of the film. The terror is silly, and forgettable. The cast don't seem to deliver any memorable performances, and as a whole this is a forgettable film, one that won't satisfy horror fans, and will only disappoint you. There is a sense of style that shows hints of potential, but due to a poorly written script, the film never promises on delivering the goods, and you are left waiting on genuine thrills. Unfortunately, The Guardian doesn't deliver, and it is a weak horror film that never is entertaining. There is no redeeming aspect that can save the film's somewhat interesting idea, and it's a shame. Stick with Friedkin's The Exorcist, which at least is one of the redefining horror films, and forget that this film exists. Don't go in expecting a great film, you'll be very disappointed. The Guardian is a mediocre film that never delivers the terror, and it's a shame. The cast here are laughable in their parts, and overall it feels like a film that was rushed into production with no emphasis on trying to create something truly terrifying and memorable. The tone of the film feels like a low budget horror film, and the result clearly shows on-screen. Unfortunately for William Friedkin, this is one of the worst films he has directed, and it's a shame because he also directed one of the genre's finest works. The Guardian is never any good, and really could have benefitted from a few script rewrites before the project gotten green lit. This is a film that leaves viewers wanting more out of the film. Forgettable.

    Mediocre horror film directed by William Friedkin, I found The Guardian to be a boring affair, one that was void of a truly engaging story, good cast, and memorable scares. The idea might have been interesting, but the script itself feels like it has way too many weak points to really make the plot standout, therefore the film is just a disappointing effort from a director who has crafted some terrific films. Friedkin can't seem to direct something worthy here, and you are left wanting more out of the film. The terror is silly, and forgettable. The cast don't seem to deliver any memorable performances, and as a whole this is a forgettable film, one that won't satisfy horror fans, and will only disappoint you. There is a sense of style that shows hints of potential, but due to a poorly written script, the film never promises on delivering the goods, and you are left waiting on genuine thrills. Unfortunately, The Guardian doesn't deliver, and it is a weak horror film that never is entertaining. There is no redeeming aspect that can save the film's somewhat interesting idea, and it's a shame. Stick with Friedkin's The Exorcist, which at least is one of the redefining horror films, and forget that this film exists. Don't go in expecting a great film, you'll be very disappointed. The Guardian is a mediocre film that never delivers the terror, and it's a shame. The cast here are laughable in their parts, and overall it feels like a film that was rushed into production with no emphasis on trying to create something truly terrifying and memorable. The tone of the film feels like a low budget horror film, and the result clearly shows on-screen. Unfortunately for William Friedkin, this is one of the worst films he has directed, and it's a shame because he also directed one of the genre's finest works. The Guardian is never any good, and really could have benefitted from a few script rewrites before the project gotten green lit. This is a film that leaves viewers wanting more out of the film. Forgettable.

  • Jul 07, 2013

    The fact that William Friedkin, I repeat, WILLIAM "THE EXORCIST" FRIEDKIN, is responsible for the laughably horrendous horror abortion that is "The Guardian" is more frightening than anything that's in the actual movie. This is a howlingly bad film that fails to frighten, intrigue, or engage on any level. "The Guardian" is one of those movies you watch and repeatedly ask yourself "how did this get made?" I'm struggling to understand what aspect of this story Friedkin thought would make for a good movie. Having recently seen Friedkin's amazing "Sorcerer" for the first time made watching this misbegotten mess is even more jarring. This movie is baffling in the truest sense of the word. "The Guardian" is about a killer tree and the evil, British nanny who does its bidding. Yep. A killer tree. From what I can discern, the nanny (actually played pretty convincingly by Jenny "Crazy Eyes" Seagrove) comes from a long line of druids who worship trees and must sacrifice newborn babies to them. She starts babysitting a family for this purpose and, well...a whole bunch of inexplicable shit happens. Apparently the tree can control wolves for some reason. Also, it decapitates people who come near it by hitting them with branches...sometimes. Other times it doesn't. I'm not sure why. One thing's for sure: it isn't remotely scary. William Friedkin's tree in this movie makes M. Night Shyamalan's wind in "The Happening" seem positively Freddy Krueger-esque in comparison. The movie starts with one of the most unnecessary, even damaging, prologues I've ever seen. It basically shows you the entire movie to follow in a span of about five minutes. It removes any suspense to be had with respect to the nanny's true identity is and what she's planning to do. It literally spells everything out for you. "The Guardian" wouldn't have been saved by omitting this glaringly ill-advised prologue, but it at least might have been able to conjur up some intrigue rather than merely setting up pins and spending the next 90 minutes knocking them down. There had to have been a shoestring budget on this film. "The Guardian" is populated by second-rate actors who can't even come close to making this stuff convincing. The special effects, makeup, and prop work are shockingly bad coming from the same director who made "The Exorcist". Granted, he wasn't the special effects person on either of these movies, but someone who oversaw one of the most finely detailed horror films ever simply must know in his heart that what's in "The Guardian" is a joke. A fake wolf paw punching through a wooden door illicited a hearty chuckle from me and was probably my favorite bad prop moment in a movie filled with bad prop moments. Honestly, I could double the length of this review with examples of inept storytelling, pacing, and editing in "The Guardian". The last 15 minutes in particular are COMPLETELY illogical for reasons too stupid and time-consuming to really discuss here. Why a director of Friedkin's stature would bother himself with a script this asinine is a mystery. His career was in a downturn by 1990, so maybe he saw this as a quick cash grab that he didn't have to leave his house in Los Angeles to make. I was heartened to learn that, after the initial release of this movie, he disowned it by giving it the Alan Smithee treatment. He knows what he did. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go watch "Bug" to remind myself that the Friedkin I know and love didn't die with "The Guardian".

    The fact that William Friedkin, I repeat, WILLIAM "THE EXORCIST" FRIEDKIN, is responsible for the laughably horrendous horror abortion that is "The Guardian" is more frightening than anything that's in the actual movie. This is a howlingly bad film that fails to frighten, intrigue, or engage on any level. "The Guardian" is one of those movies you watch and repeatedly ask yourself "how did this get made?" I'm struggling to understand what aspect of this story Friedkin thought would make for a good movie. Having recently seen Friedkin's amazing "Sorcerer" for the first time made watching this misbegotten mess is even more jarring. This movie is baffling in the truest sense of the word. "The Guardian" is about a killer tree and the evil, British nanny who does its bidding. Yep. A killer tree. From what I can discern, the nanny (actually played pretty convincingly by Jenny "Crazy Eyes" Seagrove) comes from a long line of druids who worship trees and must sacrifice newborn babies to them. She starts babysitting a family for this purpose and, well...a whole bunch of inexplicable shit happens. Apparently the tree can control wolves for some reason. Also, it decapitates people who come near it by hitting them with branches...sometimes. Other times it doesn't. I'm not sure why. One thing's for sure: it isn't remotely scary. William Friedkin's tree in this movie makes M. Night Shyamalan's wind in "The Happening" seem positively Freddy Krueger-esque in comparison. The movie starts with one of the most unnecessary, even damaging, prologues I've ever seen. It basically shows you the entire movie to follow in a span of about five minutes. It removes any suspense to be had with respect to the nanny's true identity is and what she's planning to do. It literally spells everything out for you. "The Guardian" wouldn't have been saved by omitting this glaringly ill-advised prologue, but it at least might have been able to conjur up some intrigue rather than merely setting up pins and spending the next 90 minutes knocking them down. There had to have been a shoestring budget on this film. "The Guardian" is populated by second-rate actors who can't even come close to making this stuff convincing. The special effects, makeup, and prop work are shockingly bad coming from the same director who made "The Exorcist". Granted, he wasn't the special effects person on either of these movies, but someone who oversaw one of the most finely detailed horror films ever simply must know in his heart that what's in "The Guardian" is a joke. A fake wolf paw punching through a wooden door illicited a hearty chuckle from me and was probably my favorite bad prop moment in a movie filled with bad prop moments. Honestly, I could double the length of this review with examples of inept storytelling, pacing, and editing in "The Guardian". The last 15 minutes in particular are COMPLETELY illogical for reasons too stupid and time-consuming to really discuss here. Why a director of Friedkin's stature would bother himself with a script this asinine is a mystery. His career was in a downturn by 1990, so maybe he saw this as a quick cash grab that he didn't have to leave his house in Los Angeles to make. I was heartened to learn that, after the initial release of this movie, he disowned it by giving it the Alan Smithee treatment. He knows what he did. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go watch "Bug" to remind myself that the Friedkin I know and love didn't die with "The Guardian".

  • Jun 21, 2013

    Stupid dumb Horror funny and so bad it's almost good.

    Stupid dumb Horror funny and so bad it's almost good.

  • May 15, 2013

    This movie, from director of The Exorcist, is actually pretty crappy. BUT the scene of the tree totally dismembering three punk thugs makes it worth it. Also the evil English nanny is nude a lot.

    This movie, from director of The Exorcist, is actually pretty crappy. BUT the scene of the tree totally dismembering three punk thugs makes it worth it. Also the evil English nanny is nude a lot.

  • Apr 14, 2013

    one of my favorite movies. I've owned it for two years and already watched it over 10 times. great sinister story with great special effects and one hell of a creepy man eating tree. a horror buffs dream, a part time viewers worst nightmare

    one of my favorite movies. I've owned it for two years and already watched it over 10 times. great sinister story with great special effects and one hell of a creepy man eating tree. a horror buffs dream, a part time viewers worst nightmare