An intriguing premise gets lost in ho-hum delivery in Nikyatu Jusu’s horror-thriller that is kept afloat by the excellent performance by Anna Diop.
In the film, a recent immigrant from Senegal (Diop) begins to experience a psychological presence as she waits for the visit of her young son and cares for a young girl in New York City. Jusu uniquely weaves the experience of Diop’s character as an immigrant with her inner turmoil and fears, the first half of the story proving to be utterly engrossing. Nanny becomes less interesting, and more disjointed, as the horror elements are introduced. Said elements overtake the established interest in the characters and instead treads into the supernatural. I would have been completely fine without this angle; had Jusu maintained the focus on the experiences of the Senegalese lead, it would have remained a compelling watch.
For Jusu’s first feature film, Nanny is a beautiful watch that is filmed well and cut together impressively, even in less satisfying third act. The writing is sharp until it tries to do too much where it jumbles the focus and becomes a bit of a convoluted mess of ideas. Nanny loses sight of what makes the first half of the film so interesting and instead transforms into a forgettable cliche of so many that have come before it.
Nanny is now streaming on Prime Video.