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William Friedkin
Jenny Seagrove, Dwier Brown, Carey Lowell
Writing Credits:
William Friedkin and Stephen Volk

A handsome young couple finds the perfect live-in babysitter to look after their newborn child. It seems like a fairy tale, until ancient, supernatural forces turn the couples dream into a nightmare.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 1/19/2016

• Interview with Actor Dwier Brown
• Interview with Actor Gary Swanson
• Interview with Actor Natalija Nogulich
• Interview with Composer Jack Hues
• Interview with Makeup Effects Artist Matthew Mungle
• Interview with Diirector/Co-Writer William Friedkin
• Interview with Actor Jenny Seagrove
• Interview with Co-Writer Stephen Volk
• Trailer
• Still Gallery


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Guardian [Blu-Ray] (1990)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 5, 2016)

In 1990, the two main figures behind 1973’s The Exorcist returned to the genre. Author William Peter Blatty did so more overtly, as he wrote/directed Exorcist III, the first Exorcist film to involve “behind the camera” talent from the original.

Exorcist director William Friedkin stayed away from that particular series, but he did return to horror via The Guardian. Married couple Phil (Dwier Brown) and Kate Sterling (Carey Lowell) need someone to care for their infant son Jake so they can go back to work. They hire Camilla Grandier (Jenny Seagrove), a British woman who seems like the perfect choice.

Since a movie about a wonderful, loving nanny would be dull, this turns out to be an incorrect assumption. Camilla turns out to have a supernatural secret, one that endangers Jake and the rest of the family.

Sometimes I wonder what happened to Friedkin. He experienced the highest of highs in the early 1970s, as he won an Oscar for 1971’s The French Connection and experienced a cultural/commercial smash with Exorcist. After that, however, Friedkin enjoyed only sporadic success, and nothing he did ever remotely competed with Connection or Exorcist for popular or critical relevance.

I thought perhaps Friedkin did “too well too soon” ala M. Night Shyamalan, a director who peaked with 1999’s The Sixth Sense, a movie made while still in his twenties. However, Friedkin was 36 when French Connection hit and he’d been a working director for years before that, so I can’t chalk up his subsequent “fall from grace” to immaturity.

Whatever the case may have been, by 1990, Friedkin seemed far removed from his glory days, and The Guardian does little to remind me of his better work. While Guardian never becomes a terrible movie, it also fails to deliver anything interesting or provocative.

At his best, Friedkin gave us movies that succeeded partially because he refused to telegraph emotions. I always thought that was the beauty of The Exorcist. Even with all the outrageous material on display, Friedkin presented the material in a nearly matter-of-fact manner that allowed the tale to become much more evocative and chilling that might have been the case if he made the terror obvious.

Friedkin follows a different path for Guardian, which gives us a more traditional horror tale. Via overly dramatic photography and music, Friedkin never allows the viewer to interpret events – we’re always told exactly what to think and feel.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as overtly “obvious” films can still be satisfying – not everything needs to be restrained and clinical. I just think Friedkin’s best work follows that path, though, and when he lays his cards on the table, he gives us less satisfying films.

Guardian definitely falls into that category, as nothing about it seems subtle. Again, I don’t mind that in the objective sense, but Friedkin can’t do anything interesting with the material. He creates a blunt, over the top fable without anything to redeem it.

Possibly the film’s greatest flaw stems from its simple tediousness. As much as Friedkin tries to amp up the scares and drama, Guardian remains bland and emotionless. The horror scenes lack impact, and we never invest in the characters or situations.

Some of that comes from the dishwater dull cast. Not that those involved lack talent, but I don’t think any of them boast the qualities necessary to carry a film. None of the participants muster any personality, so we’re left with lifeless characters who fail to pique our interest.

All of that means The Guardian never turns into an interesting effort. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the story itself, but the execution falters and leaves us with a monotonous tale.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus B

The Guardian appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie looked generally good but it showed it age.

Sharpness was usually fine, but exceptions occurred. Wide shots occasionally became tentative, so some of those could be a bit on the fuzzy side. Still, overall clarity was positive; I couldn’t call this a razor-sharp image, but it looked reasonably precise.

No issues with jaggies or moiré effects appeared, and edge haloes remained minor. Print flaws became a sporadic concern, however, as the movie suffered from a mix of specks. These didn’t become dominant, but they popped up more than I’d like.

Colors looked decent to good. 1990 film stocks didn’t tend to be the most dynamic, and Guardian could reflect those trends, but the hues usually looked reasonably positive. The film opted for a blue-tinted palette that showed acceptable reproduction.

Blacks were fairly deep, and shadows showed fair clarity. Some low-light shots lacked great definition, but they were mostly good. I thought the film came across as perfectly watchable but not memorable.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA stereo soundtrack, it provided serviceable audio. Music demonstrated nice stereo spread, but effects didn’t have a lot to do. A few more action-oriented sequences added a bit of pep, but those remained infrequent.

Audio quality was fine for a 25-year-old soundtrack, though the mix came with one notable drawback: looping. Especially at the start, Guardian presented some terrible dubbing. This improved as the film progressed, but dialogue always felt a bit artificial.

Music showed nice fidelity and range, and effects appeared fairly accurate and robust. The track didn’t boast a ton of oomph, but it showed decent low-end, mostly related to the music. This became an average mix that lost points mainly due to some poor dubbing.

In terms of extras, The Guardian boasts a slew of interviews. A Happy Coincidence runs 21 minutes, 56 seconds and offers actor Dwier Brown’s discussion of his casting and performance as well as working with William Friedkin and aspects of the production. Brown offers frank and interesting memories of the film in this strong session. Heck, he even touches on the awful looping I mentioned earlier!

With From Strasberg to The Guardian, we find a 10-minute, 10-second chat with actor Gary Swanson. He discusses his tutelage under Lee Strasberg and his early career as well as a little about his time on Guardian. Swanson doesn’t tell us much about Guardian itself, but he still gives us an interesting enough chat.

Next we get the 11-minute, 33-second A Mother’s Journey. In it, actor Natalja Nogulich covers her casting in Guardian along with working with Friedkin, her co-stars and other aspects of her career. Nogulich brings us a quick but enjoyable interview.

Scoring The Guardian fills six minutes, 40 seconds with thoughts from composer Jack Hues. He goes over the music he created for the film and working with Friedkin. “Scoring” seems brief but it comes with a few decent notes.

During Tree Woman: The Effects of The Guardian, makeup effects artist Matthew Mungle provides a 13-minute, seven-second piece. As expected, he talks about the movie’s makeup effects and his reaction to the film. Mungle offers a good collection of insights.

We hear from co-writer/director William Friedkin during the 17-minute, 25-second Return to the Genre. He goes over his goals for the movie as well as its path to the screen, personal connections to the story, casting, production troubles, and the horror genre. Friedkin provides a tight, informative interview.

After this comes The Nanny, an interview with actor Jenny Seagrove. She chats for 13 minutes, 19 seconds as she looks at her career, working with Friedkin, and experiences during the shoot. Seagrove seems open and entertaining as she remembers the film.

For the final interview, we find Don’t Go Into the Woods. This delivers a 21-minute conversation with co-writer Stephen Volk. He covers issues related to the story/script as well as his collaboration with Friedkin. Volk’s chat gives us another collection of useful memories and observations.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a still gallery. This presents a running one-minute, 19-second montage that includes 12 photos. It’s a decent collection, though it lacks many pictures.

At its heart, The Guardian attempts to deliver a modern-day fairy tale, but it falters. Nothing about it manages to engage or intrigue, so we find ourselves left with a slow, boring horror flick. The Blu-ray presents erratic but acceptable picture and audio along with an informative set of bonus materials. The Guardian winds up as a weak footnote in William Friedkin’s filmography.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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