We’re Haunted By What We Leave Behind

December 13, 2022

Composers Bartek Gliniak & Tanerélle Score Psychological Horror Fable NANNY

– Randall D. Larson

NANNY is a 2022 horror film written and directed by Nikyatu Jusu in her directorial debut. The film stars Anna Diop, Michelle Monaghan, Sinqua Walls, Morgan Spector, Rose Decker and Leslie Uggams. Jason Blum serves as an executive producer through his Blumhouse Television banner. In this psychological fable of horror, Aisha (Anna Diop), a woman who recently emigrated from Senegal, is hired to care for the daughter of an affluent couple (Michelle Monaghan and Morgan Spector) living in New York City. Haunted by the absence of the young son she left behind, Aisha hopes her new job will afford her the chance to bring him to the U.S., but becomes increasingly unsettled by the family’s volatile home life. As his arrival approaches, a violent presence begins to invade both her dreams and her reality, threatening the American dream she is painstakingly piecing together.

The film has been composed by Bartek Gliniak and actress/composer Tanerélle (aka Tanerélle Stephens), of which this is her first composing credit. Gliniak is a Los Angeles based composer for films and television; he is a graduate of the Academy of Music in Cracow, since 1996 he has been collaborating with the Experimental Studio of Polish Radio in Warsaw where he composed and recorded numerous electronic and experimental compositions, and he has scored over 30 films including MARCH ’68, A CAT WITH A DOG, THE RECONCILIATION, BLOODY DATE, 7 MINUT.

In an insightful article about the film in NPRcom https://www.npr.org/2022/11/23/1135534972/nanny-review-black-horror-movie-african-folklore , Pilar Galvan writes “While recent films in the Black horror genre have presented the terrifying realities of being Black in America, NANNY is rooted in the specific experience of the African diaspora. Black horror films often subvert systems of oppression but they also often employ Western devices and narratives. In films like MASTER, GET OUT and CANDYMAN, the horror device is the predominantly white institution or neighborhood – which has implications on the Black character’s sense of self and being. In NANNY, the white domestic space is the setting, but the tensions are manifested through African folklore… The film’s visual language is disorienting by design. Hauntingly beautiful forms materialize to suggest the experience of being submerged in a body of water; the audience is immersed in Tanerelle’s delicately blended aquatic soundscape.”

Photo: Anna Diop in NANNY. Image courtesy of Prime Video, from NPR.com.

Reviewing the film for BelowTheLine.com, writer J. Don Birnam comments that “Bartek Gliniak’s score heightens Aisha’s feeling of being trapped by using the typical spooky notes that you hear in horror movies and then accelerating them until your ears feel like they are being pressed down. The film combines Gliniak’s score and [Rina] Yang’s photography in a quietly effective way, and as strange as the story may seem at times, the precision with which each artist carries out their craft makes the film greater than the sum of its parts.”

NANNY premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival last January, where it won the Grand Jury Prize, making it the first horror film to ever win this award at Sundance. The film was released for a limited theatrical release on November 23, 2022 by Amazon Studios, prior to its forthcoming streaming debut on Prime Video starting December 16, 2022.

Watch the film’s trailer, via Prime Video on YouTube:

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