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YMMV / The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

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  • Designated Hero: Claire can be this for some viewers. Mainly because she seems more interested in growing plants than wanting to spend time with her own children.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Rebecca DeMornay as Peyton Mott, a twisted and evil fake nanny? Yeah, she definitely is this.
  • Fridge Horror: Mrs. Mott isn't able to make Claire think Solomon's molesting Emma just because it's every parent's worst nightmare. It's also because what Dr. Mott did to her has made her extra paranoid, which raises the possibility that she knew all along what kind of a sicko she was married to, but chose to turn a blind eye.
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  • Harsher in Hindsight: Seeing Claire being molested/taken advantage of by a more powerful man with an elevated status looks much worse since twenty-five years later, her actress, Annabella Sciorra, would publicly accuse Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment/assault. Also, like with Claire/Annabella, several other women have come forward with accusations as well.
  • Hollywood Homely: No makeup or clothing is supposedly enough to make Annabella Sciorra the dowdy alternative to Rebecca DeMornay and Julianne Moore.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Peyton Mott. Yes, she's utterly ruthless in her plot to ruin Claire's life and steal her family from her, but given how she underwent a downright painful Trauma Conga Line that included losing her husband, money and unborn child (as well as her ability to have another due to the emergency hysterectomy), it's hard not to feel just a tiny bit sorry for her.
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  • Magnificent Bitch: Mrs. Mott, who manipulates every situation with success until the very end. She's that smart, and Rebecca DeMornay manages to play her very convincingly.
  • Moment of Awesome:
    • Claire successfully faking an asthma attack to get Peyton's guard down in the climax before invoking the Mama Bear fight on her.
    • Emma get one herself, displaying a sharp mind for a girl her age by locking Peyton in the nursery, telling her "You're not my mommy!" and trying to get Joey to safety.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Mrs. Mott crosses this when she frames Solomon for molesting Emma, causing him to get fired. And she just goes further from there...
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Marlene's highly disturbing death.
    • Mrs. Mott's miscarriage and the operation which result in her needing a hysterectomy, which is a mixture of this and Tear Jerker.
    • Anytime Claire's asthma flares up, particularly after she discovers Marlene's body, which got so bad, especially since Mrs. Mott emptied her inhalers so she would suffocate without them, she had to be hospitalized and put on a respirator. More disturbing, the death trap was meant for her.
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    • Mrs. Mott aggressively threatening and intimidating Solomon after he accidentally witnesses her breastfeeding Joey. She gets up close to him and asks him "Did you like looking at me?" in a flirtatious and sultry way, which makes him uncomfortable and he tries to look away without saying nothing. The second time she asks him, her tone of voice is more stern and menacing, and Solomon, who is still uncomfortable, says nothing. And then after a few seconds comes a hard slap from her. Solomon just freezes while Mrs. Mott coldly glares at him before smugly uttering, "Don’t fuck with me, retard. My version of the story will be better than yours." Up until that point, most of the things Mrs. Mott had been doing were underhanded sneaky but not outright evil. This was her FIRST truly malevolent moment of the film, bullying a harmless and innocent man who has nothing to do with her plans for revenge or has wronged her in any way—but she does it anyway, out of peer viciousness and to drive home that she’s not someone to be fucked with. Also, the cruelty displayed by Rebecca DeMornay is enough to make even the most calm and collected people feel downright uncomfortable.
    • Mrs. Mott sneaking back into the house to attack and kill both Claire and Michael, and to kidnap Emma and Joey to start a new family of her own with them. It shows just how far she’s gone of the deep end and how delusional she’s become as she believes herself to be the children’s mother as she walks up to a terrified Emma, (who witnessed her attack Claire and knock her unconscious) telling her in an overjoyed and childlike tone "It’s okay, Emma. Mommy’s here. I’m going to take you and Joe. We’re going to have a real family now. You’ll never have to see these people again." Then she asks her, "So tell your mommy... where’s Joe? Huh? Where is he?" Pretty deluded and disturbing, and if that’s not enough, there's the part where she encounters Solomon (who has been keeping an eye on the Bartels, despite being fired) trying to get the children to safety. He rushes to grab Joe to protect him from her after she demands him to give him over to her. When he says no, her response is "You give me my baby or I'LL BASH YOUR SKULL IN!" That right there is the textbook definition of batshit crazy!
    • Not to mention the way Mrs. Mott taunts and mocks Claire despite having her at her mercy when she’s having another asthma attack. "When your husband makes love to you, it’s MY face he sees. When your baby’s hungry, it’s MY breast that feeds him. Look at you! When push comes to shove, you can’t even breathe!" That will give every single mother the creeps, and the way that Rebecca DeMornay delivers it makes it even more disturbing. Fortunately for everybody, Claire was faking her asthma attack to get Mrs. Mott to let her guard down.
  • One-Scene Wonder: John de Lancie as Dr. Mott.
  • Rooting for the Empire: A lot of viewers can't help but root for Mrs. Mott, mainly due to DeMornay's excellent and charismatic performance compared to the rather bland protagonists.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • At one point, Solomon says that one thing he really wants is a blue bicycle, and the family give it to him to show that they consider him very much a part of the family. While this is a very heartwarming moment, it becomes absolutely heartbreaking when Mrs. Mott accuses him of and frames him for sexually abusing Emma... and we see a shot of Solomon just looking hurt and confused as his bike is taken onto the van to his special needs home.
    • Mrs. Mott secretly breastfeeding Joey on her first night in the Bartels' home can be this as well. Joey is not her baby, and as a result, it's one of her first steps to take over the family. But the look of joy and near tearful look on her face while she's breastfeeding him will probably leave a few people a little choked up, considering she was robbed of the chance to do this with her own baby due to her miscarriage.
    • Solomon saying to himself after being physically and verbally intimidated by Mrs. Mott that he won’t let her harm the Bartels is something that will leave a lot of people fighting back tears. The emotions of fear, hurt and confusion displayed by Ernie Hudson makes the scene even more sad. “I won’t let you hurt them. They’re my friends. I won’t let you hurt them!"
    • Watching Emma cry in Mrs. Mott’s arms instead of her own mother, who she blames for letting Solomon being taken away is also heartbreaking because Emma and Solomon had become extremely close. Claire also breaking down in tears due to Emma’s rejection is another heart-breaker.
    • Mrs. Mott herself. Yes, she’s a deluded and vengeful psychopath, but you can’t help but feel sorry for her a little bit at the end, considering all she had lost which made her go down this path. During one of her conversations with Emma, she mentioned that she had to take care of herself for most of her life because her mother died when she was very little, and during one of her conversations with Claire, she mentioned that her husband (Mr. Mott) was her only family, which means being alone or abandoned is something she can’t and won’t deal with. Her losing her husband, her unborn baby, her home, her inheritance and having an emergency hysterectomy (which saved her from dying but prevents her from having anymore kids) in only a couple of days is extremely excruciating. All that and her becoming a tortured, twisted and troubled soul is why a good portion of viewers felt it was best that she died at the end because she didn’t have to suffer anymore.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Seeing all the horror and pain Peyton goes through in the first twenty minutes of the film, it's hard not to feel at least some justification for her Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Claire and her family.
  • The Woobie: Solomon.

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