A title card tells us we are starting off in Stockholm Sweden so hopes are high with visions of nurses, stewardesses and — that being a free country, bikini teams — dancing in my head. Nope, nuns. Well that was a buzz-kill.
While schoolgirl Anna is lured to the science lab on the last day of school, another girl goes through her luggage, passport, plane tickets, and au pair contract. OK, OK, au pair . . . this thing is salvageable. Anna gets to the dark lab and is clobbered by a pestle the size of a bowling pin — WTF were they mashing up in there? Cut to a well manicure hand turning on the gas in the lab (which has more jets than United), a body strolling past a lit candle, leaving the school, and KABOOM.
Stay-at-home dad Bob makes dinner for her and their 8 year old daughter Christina played by 10 year old Elizabeth Moss and looking exactly like she does in Mad Men. Somehow Bob has managed to burn dinner in a microwave with a freakin’ timer, so they order enough Chinese food for Peking. On the bright side, maybe they don’t have a gas stove.
Meanwhile, back in Stockholm, Kirsten’s (the faux Anna’s) father is suspicious why her personal things are gone from her room. Personally, I am suspicious why the enormous conflagration did not seem to do any damage to the school.
Other than the inevitable 1) au pair very mildly flirting with the father scene, and 2) mother feeling replaced and threatened scene, not much happens in the middle section, yet I was never bored. The cast was good in their roles, even though I didn’t recall seeing most of them (as adults, anyway).
So Anna took Christina to a theme park 2 days before Kate had promised to take her. So Nick and Anna went shopping for Christina’s birthday presents without Kate because she was working. Nothing radical ever really happened, but that’s all it took to get to the two lines that ignited the 3rd act: Kate: “I want that woman out of my house. Now. Today.” Nick: “What do we tell Christina? That Anna had to go away because mommy couldn’t stand the competition?” Oh no you d’int!
Act III: Kate storms into the house and into her bedroom, slamming the door. She immediately gets a call from Dr. Loomis — er, I mean “Anna’s” father. Since his character gets no name on IMDb, let’s just go with Loomis. He tells Kate that “Anna” is really his daughter Kirsten and , “She is EVIL!” Wow, he IS Dr. Loomis. “And that she will do anything to get what she wants . . . your child.” Christina has been chosen by Anna to make a bond with the devil.
They agree on a meeting place and hang up, but Anna has been eavesdropping on the kitchen phone. Oddly, Kate has been talking on a black phone, and EVIL Anna has been listening in on a white phone. Seems like . . . well, I ain’t no director. Kate tears through the house looking for Christina, but she and “Anna” have fled and are hiding in the woods.
Rather than call the police, Kate goes through “Anna’s” room and finds 2 passports and a t-shirt from the Rhode Island School of Design. She breaks into Nick’s studio and finds a Gieger-esque painting of the family and “Anna”. She runs to Christina’s bedroom to find her coloring — so what was the point of hiding in the woods. As Kate drags Christina screaming out of the house, she is stopped by Anna who has enlisted Nick and, for some reason, the landscaper to stop her.
Kate, again forgoing the police, goes to see Loomis at an abandoned building scarier than “Anna”. There is the usual EVIL rigamarole, a pact with the devil, wedding a child bride, a pendant, a book. On the other hand, Satan waits until the child’s 21st birthday to bear him a child. So either devil-babies have remarkably long gestation periods, or Satan does have some boundaries.
The landscaper finally has a purpose as he kills Loomis in the classic “always run in a straight line when a car or spaceship is bearing down on you” strategy. Finally Kate calls the police — no, wait, she drives home, The wedding ceremony has already begun with Nick creepily giving away the bride and putting the pendant on her. In a struggle, fire spreads throughout the orchard as “Anna” escapes with Christina into the burning house — another brilliant strategy.
Caught between “Anna” and her mother, Christina does the right thing and tosses the book into the fire. “Anna” tries to retrieve it, but is killed as the roof collapses — a trick Satan usually saves for snowy church roofs.
Despite a firey load-bearing member collapsing on top of her, “Anna” escapes without so much as a singe as she is seen hitchhiking. Looking like she does, she easily gets a ride — and what luck, a nice couple with a daughter.
There is absolutely nothing remarkable or fresh about this movie, but somehow I found myself kind of liking it. Maybe it was little Elizabeth Moss looking crazily like grown Elizabeth Moss, maybe it was grown Marcy Walker (Kate) looking like grown Linda Hamilton, maybe it was Olivia D’Abo just looking awesome, maybe after a rough week, I just needed a big fat comfortable chair of a movie.
Would I ever recommend it to anyone? Never. Will I ever watch it again? Never. Yet, somehow I didn’t feel like it was a waste of time.
-  Finally, I know which part is the mortar and which part is the pestle. It’s been keeping me up nights.
-  Coincidentally, the same thing Satan had for Christina in a few years..
- Executive Producer: Victoria Principal, who in 1992 should have been in front of the camera.
- The director went on to do several episodes of Breaking Bad, winning an Emmy for one.
- Does anyone eat Chinese food at home with chopsticks? Even the Chinese? Use a fork, ya hipster doofus!
- Was the Rhode Island School of Design t-shirt a joke? That was the alma mater of David Byrne, maybe best known for Psycho Killer.
- The plural of au pair is aux pairs.