After going two weeks without a new Lifetime movie, I had almost forgotten what it was like to watch one. Last night I was reminded what a joyous experience it is when the network aired The Nightmare Nanny, not to be confused with A Nanny’s Revenge or A Mother’s Nightmare. (Is Lifetime run by non-English speakers whose English dictionary only has five pages?) There was plenty of screaming, crazy eyes, and implausible plotlines. Ah, it’s good to be back.
The movie wastes no time revealing the trauma that causes our villain to become a non-blinking psycho. Good, I hate having to pretend I’m surprised by it later in the movie. We’re introduced to pregnant Amber (Mekenna Melvin) and her baby daddy Jake (Bunheads hottie Nathan Parsons!). They’re madly in love and on their way to Los Angeles, where Amber declares everything will be okay, just so we’re clear that it so obviously won’t be. In one of the most poetic moments in Lifetime history, Jake is so distracted with staring at his sleeping girlfriend and lovingly touching her pregnant belly that he drives straight into an oncoming car. Needless to say, they lose the baby, and after a lot of screaming, they toss her ashes over the side of a bridge.
Cut to three years later, as we’re introduced to our requisite happy family, whose lives will soon be made a living hell. Let’s all treasure this time together, mmkay? Anne (Ashley Scott) and Ben (Kip Purdue) have matching pixie cuts and an adorable daughter named Jenny. Things aren’t going well for Ben at work, and the family’s going to have to start cutting back on more than just the hair on the sides of their heads. Anne decides she should go to work for Ben’s sister Elyse (Stacy Haiduk) and hire a nanny to look after Jenny. “Will you do a background check?” Ben asks. “Of course,” says Anne. “I don’t believe you,” I say, snacking on my couch. Gee, I wonder if she’ll end up hiring Amber, who’s currently staring at them from across the park?
After a string of interviews with people whom Anne describes as “crazy” (oh, the irony), she finally meets with Amber, who’s very good at turning on the charm for a woman who’s just murdered someone and stolen their identity. That’s right, Amber kills poor innocent nanny candidate Julie and uses her resume to get the job. When can she start? Tomorrow, of course! Where’s that background check we just talked about, Anne? Anne? Hello? Oh, we’re not doing that anymore? Kay. I should also mention that little Jenny has a heart arrhythmia and must take medicine every day. As a person who’s seen Panic Room, I knew this was a very important detail.
Amber, or should I say Julie, proves to be a wonderful nanny. And like any good Lifetime nanny or step-mom or surrogate, she makes Anne paranoid that her daughter doesn’t like her anymore. Anne tries to fix this by taking Jenny to the park, where we discover that AmberJulie is stalking them to make sure Jenny is safe. And also to act batshit crazy.
Ben must conveniently work overnight on the same day Anne has to go on a business trip, so they leave Jenny alone with JulieAmber so she can take her on a creepy carousel ride and watch her while she sleeps. But the most important moment of this whole scenario is when Anne calls her sister-in-law to say that she can’t get through to Amber and would she please go over and check things out? That’s right, she says Amber, her nanny’s real name. Not Julie, the only name she knows her by. No one, from the screenwriter to the actress to the editor, noticed this mistake, but it’s a moment I will treasure for the rest of my life. Amen.
When the sister-in-law does go over to the house, she finds AmberJulie wearing Anne’s negligee accessorized with Anne’s very sentimental locket. After she forces her way into the house and stares at Jenny while she sleeps, I started to suspect the big twist would be that Auntie Elyse is the crazy one, but alas that’s not the case. Suspicious Elyse does, however, warn JulieAmber that she’ll be back in the morning to check in. I automatically assumed this would lead her to return the next morning to an empty house, because all signs pointed to it, but that doesn’t happen either. What does happen is that Elyse ends up in the hospital after getting beaten up by a mugger who didn’t steal anything. So we know this is the work of an enemy and also a dumbass. Instead of warning Anne that her nanny was wearing her jewelry, Elyse is just like, “You should see the other guy. Hahaha, I’m so sassy. I’m no help at all!”
We soon learn that Jake the scruffy baby daddy was the mugger, and he arrives at the park just in time to abduct Jenny. For the second time in the movie, Anne answers a phone call and chooses to turn completely around for the duration of the conversation. I’m not saying Anne deserved to have her daughter kidnapped, but is it really that hard to look at her while you talk on the phone? It’s not like rubbing your tummy and patting your head, is it? I’m not a parent, so I wouldn’t know. Needless to say, Jake carries Jenny away with him and Anne begins the search for her missing child. After discovering that neither Jenny’s meds nor her favorite teddy bear are in the house, Anne becomes suspicious and goes to the address on AmberJulie’s resume. Of course that’s dead Julie’s address, and we learn that her landlady hasn’t seen her in two weeks. This timeframe is then reiterated by the cops, who say they’ve found Julie’s two-week-old corpse. Hold the phone. It’s only been two weeks?! I could have sworn I saw more than 14 outfit changes. The cops tell Anne that her nanny’s real name is Amber Miller. “Who’s Amber Miller?” Anne asks. Uh, you knew earlier in the movie when you called her that!
After researching Amber’s history on Google Lookitup, Anne takes it upon herself to go to Amber’s old residence, even though the cops are like, hey, don’t do that. The house belongs to Amber’s parents, who just last night welcomed Amber and Jake and Jenny into their home, believing Jenny to be Amber’s real daughter, named Gabby, the same name as her dead baby. Even the mom is like, really? When Anne arrives, the faux-family isn’t there, but Jenny’s bear is, and Anne naturally assumes they have Jenny. But granny’s got a gun, so let’s take this slow, shall we? After Jake expresses regret over the fact that they, you know, stole somebody’s kid, Amber kicks him out at knifepoint, just in time for him to run into Anne and Ben and lead them to the house. But oops, Amber’s left with Jenny and is currently preparing to jump off the bridge where her dead baby’s ashes were strewn. Anne tries to talk her down with meaningful comments about being a mom and how they understand each other and … what’s that? The cops found Jenny? Never mind, let’s look over there while Amber jumps to her death. Anne and Ben return to their huge house and become a happy family again, and scruffy Jake weeps.
It’s the circle of Lifetime.