Uncovering the American Nightmare: Nanny Leaves Us Wondering

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Uncovering the American Nightmare: Exploring the Meaning Behind Arthouse Horror Film ‘Nanny’


Released in 2019, the arthouse horror film ‘Nanny’ immediately gained recognition for its artistic and frightening exploration of the American Dream. The filmmaker’s intricate story invites viewers to examine notions of identity, society, and morality in modern America with the help of a chilling horror backdrop. By looking deeper, the film reveals a commentary on the state of the nation and leaves us to ponder the questions of whether the so-called ‘American Dream’ is truly attainable or just a false belief. This article will identify the themes and messages within the film, discuss the genre and its implications, and analyze the methods used to create the film in order to understand the nature of the ‘American Nightmare’ of contemporary society.

Examining the Themes of ‘Nanny’:

At the heart of the film ‘Nanny’ is its exploration of the modern-day American Dream. By representing the life of a nanny and gradually revealing dark secrets about the supposed American Dream, the film induces viewers to ponder the direction of the nation and the current state of life in America. The film cleverly portrays the futility of attaining the perfect life and explores the ideas of society, identity, and morality throughout its narrative.

Additionally, the film touches on the concepts of family and relationships. Although the film is centered around a nanny figure, it emphasizes the lack of connection in the family structure and presents a darker image of how individuals may isolate themselves from loved ones. Moreover, ‘Nanny’ acts as a vehicle to show the consequences of rejecting family and social traditions, making it a cautionary tale for modern America and its inhabitants.

Analyzing the Genre and Implications:

‘Nanny’ was released as an arthouse horror film, a genre which has been known to create a deep level of suspense and engage the audience by playing on emotions. The theme of horror helps to convey the political message behind the film as it serves as a metaphor for the darker side of the American Dream and its actualization.

More specifically, the horror elements act as a warning for viewers as it discourages the attempt to acquire a utopian life and instead, presents an alternate version of the traditional American Dream. Moreover, the genre contributes to the commentary of the narrative, creating a critique of the powerless state of the country and the decaying family structures.

Evaluating the Cinematic Methods:

Cinematic methods, such as the use of nonlinear storytelling, are essential in inducing audience engagement and in delivering the desired impact of the film. In ‘Nanny’, the nonlinear approach works to present the idea of a magical world, yet gradually reveals the true state of reality and the consequences of the characters’ choices. By utilizing this approach, the filmmaker is able to capture the audience’s attention and cleverly draw parallels to the false sense of security associated with the American Dream.

Additionally, the film employs elements of symbolism to convey the messages of the film more clearly. Symbols, such as the nanny symbolizing the facade of success and the well-maintained home acting as a prison for the family, create strong visual images for the audience to interpret and develop the underlying themes of the film more intricately.

Investigating the Meaning of the ‘American Nightmare’:

The ‘American Nightmare’ created by ‘Nanny’ serves as an antithesis to the traditional notion of the American Dream. It further presents an image of the true state of life in America and the bleakness of obtaining an idealistic lifestyle. Moreover, the film proposes a critique of the power structures in the country, which is presented through the metaphor of a house.

Moreover, the film conveys a deeper political message by presenting a commentary on working class mobility and the decreased freedom of individuals to pursue dreams. The narrative structure and complexities of the film allow it to bring attention to such questions and decisions faced by citizens of contemporary society.


The film ‘Nanny’ acts as a stark contrast to the traditional idea of the American Dream and offers interpretations of the concept of the modern-day American Nightmare. Through its exploration of the themes of identity, relationships, and morality, the film encourages viewers to think critically about the nation and reflect on their own lives. Furthermore, its elements of horror genre and its intricate narrative structure help create amazing visuals and an overall greater awareness of the true meaning of the ‘American Nightmare’.