[[caption-width-right:300:''"[[TitleDrop The hand that rocks the cradle]] is the hand that rules the world."'' ]]

''The Hand That Rocks the Cradle'' is a 1992 thriller written by [[Film/RiseOfThePlanetOfTheApes Amanda]] [[Film/JurassicWorld Silver]] and directed by Curtis Hanson, about a vengeful nanny out to destroy a naïve woman and steal her family.

Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra) is pregnant with her second child. At a routine checkup, Claire is molested by an obstetrician, Dr. Victor Mott (John de Lancie), and when Claire tells her husband (Matt [=McCoy=]), the couple decide to report the incident to the authorities. Four more women come forward to corroborate the Bartels' story and Dr. Mott commits suicide.

Dr. Mott's widow (Rebecca De Mornay), after losing her child from the stress of her husband's suicide as well as the financial fallout, vows revenge on Claire's family, and sets herself up as a nanny that the family hires, not knowing her true identity. Now calling herself Peyton Flanders, Mrs. Mott begins working covertly to bring the family down.

!!Contains examples of:
* AdultFear: That your doctor, someone you are supposed to be able to have the utmost trust in, could use that trust to violate you when you're at your most vulnerable. It doesn't help knowing that this happens frequently in RealLife. Claire is just flat-out lucky that other women had the nerve to come forward once she did. In so many other instances they don't, whether out of the typical shame and fear experienced by assault victims or the confusion or uncertainty as to whether or not anything improper really happened.
** Also, that the person you trust to take care of your child could be trying to undermine you and your marriage.
* ArtisticLicense: It's against the law to broadcast the name and picture of a sexual assault victim. Of course if that hadn't happened to Claire, we wouldn't have a movie.
* AxCrazy: Peyton.
* BabysitterFromHell: Peyton again.
* BeautyIsBad: Peyton, ''again''. Despite being very attractive herself, Marlene appears to dislike and distrust her instantly for no other reason than how she looks--and she's not even dressed up at the time!
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled: Dr. Mott avoids being arrested for molestation by shooting himself.
* BitchInSheepsClothing: Guess who?
* BlondeBrunetteRedhead: Peyton, Claire, and Marlene.
* ChekhovsGun: Several. The wind chimes at both houses. The blue turtles on the walls of both nurseries. The baby monitor, which saved the baby. [[HoistByHisOwnPetard Peyton had used it throughout the movie to eavesdrop on the Bartels.]] And Claire's asthma. After repeated attacks throughout the film, she ''fakes'' one in order to throw Peyton off guard.
* ChekhovsGunman: Solomon
* ConvenientMiscarriage: Kicks off Peyton's plot.
* CreepyPhysical: Claire's doctor molests her during a physical examination, leading her to file charges and kicking off the events of the movie.
* DeadpanSnarker: Marlene.
* DeathOfAChild: Peyton's baby. Subverted with Claire's baby Joey, whom Peyton nearly smothers before thinking better of it and instead deciding to take over Claire's life.
* DisneyVillainDeath: Literally, since this ''is'' in fact a Disney movie (via their Hollywood Pictures division). Downplayed overall since we do see where they land: a picket fence. Noted in ''Magazine/{{Mad}}'''s satire "The Ham That Robs The Cradle"[[hottip:*: ironically, Rebecca [=DeMornay=]'s performance is free of ChewingTheScenery]]:
--> "Is this fence to keep people out... or keep people in?"
--> "Neither! It's to impale people on, but you don't have to worry about that for at least three pages!"
* EvilDetectingBaby: Inverted. Baby Joe wails when his own mother holds him, but quiets down in Peyton's arms. Then again, it ''was'' Peyton's breast milk.
* TheFakeCutie: Peyton Mott.
* FirstGirlWins: Averted. During a chat with Peyton, Claire reveals that Marlene was Michael's first love. Armed with this plus Claire's obvious lingering insecurity, this becomes yet another thing Peyton uses to her advantage.
* {{Frameup}}: Knowing that he's on to her, Peyton considers it convenient to get rid of Solomon, so she steals the panties of her employer's five-year-old daughter and plants them in his room. With this "evidence" in place, she starts accusing him of pedophilia. At the end, he goes PapaWolf to protect the baby when Peyton assaults Claire.
* GambitRoulette: Peyton's plot to ruin Claire's life.
* IdiotBall: Marlene holds it firmly in her hands when she reveals to Peyton that she knows who she is, prompting Peyton to lure her to her death. It's especially bad considering that she's been suspicious of Peyton from the moment they met.
** Then Michael picks it up by going downstairs to check on the loud radio music coming from Peyton's room. Run like hell! He gets a concussion and both legs broken for his trouble.
* IllGirl: Claire suffers from ''severe'' asthma and has repeated attacks throughout the film. Leads to an inverted ChekhovsSkill when she ''fakes'' an attack in order to throw Peyton off guard.
* InspirationallyDisadvantaged[=/=]MagicalNegro: Solomon. Mentally handicapped, yet a skilled carpenter and suspicious of Peyton as well, and even after being fired (thanks to Peyton convincing Claire that he's molesting her daughter Emma), he continues to hang around the house, ultimately playing a key role in saving the family during the final confrontation.
* KickTheDog: Peyton slaps Solomon and calls him "retard", even ''before'' she frames him for molesting Emma.
* MamaBear: Claire is this in full force once she discovers what Peyton really is. Strangely enough, Peyton shows signs of this too, when she attacks the kid who's been bullying Emma.
* ManipulativeBastard: ''Peyton.''
* MistakenForCheating: Claire discovers Marlene's cigarette lighter in Michael's pants pocket, not knowing that Peyton has planted it there. Between this and the several nights that he has supposedly been working late, she deduces that they've been having an affair and confronts him about it by screaming her head off at him, not knowing that an entire room full of party guests is there to celebrate her birthday--their sneaking around was to plan the event.
* MistakenForPedophile: Solomon, thanks to Peyton's manipulation and outright planting of evidence.
* SecondLove: Claire admits to Peyton that she is this to Marlene regarding Michael.
* ShowerOfAngst: Claire takes one after her disturbing visit to Dr. Mott
* SurpriseParty: Planned by Peyton, it's not surprising that it doesn't go well.
* TheyLookJustLikeEveryoneElse: The good-looking Motts -- he's a sexually abusive pervert using his position as a physician to molest women, while she's a vengeful madwoman.
* TookALevelInBadass: After seeing her mother being attacked, Emma outsmarts Peyton and locks her in the nursery, rescuing Joe at the same time. As an added bonus, you can practically feel the intensity with which she yells "YOU ARE NOT MY MOMMY!"
* UnwittingPawn: Claire.
* VillainProtagonist: Peyton is arguably the focus of the film, despite being the villain.
* WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds: Peyton. While there's no excuse for her actions, would she really have done all that had she not simultaneously lost her husband, unborn child, and presumably everything else?
* WouldHurtAChild:
** In one scene Peyton is shown to be intending to smother baby Joe with a pillow. [[spoiler: Subverted when she decides instead to breast-feed him.]]
** She also manhandles the hell out of a bratty little boy who was bullying Emma. To the sheer delight of the other kids on the playground.
* YouHaveNoIdeaWhoYoureDealingWith: Claire warns Michael point blank exactly just how deadly Peyton is. And he finds out.