Director Nikyatu Jusu has set her feature directorial debut. Nanny, a new horror film from the up-and-coming talent, is set to be released this fall. Blumhouse Productions is producing alongside Stay Gold Features, Topic Studios, and LinLay Productions. Amazon Studios is set to handle the wide distribution rights. In addition to directing, Jusu also wrote the screenplay.
Jusu is best known for works focusing on the complex struggles faced by Black and immigrant women in the United States. Her short film Suicide by Sunlight, centering on a Black vampire whose melanin protects her from the sun, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019. Now, the filmmaker appears to be following that horror path with her latest venture, which also received a premiere at Sundance earlier this year.
With that, let’s look at everything we know about Nanny, Jusu’s feature directorial debut. What will the plot involve, and what themes may be explored? Who has been lined up in the cast? While the film has premiered at Sundance, when and where can we expect a release to the public? And what else should audiences know about Nikyatu Jusu’s Nanny?
Nanny: The Plot
Since Nanny premiered at Sundance earlier this year, we have a general idea of what to expect from the plot. An official synopsis reads:
“In this psychological horror fable of displacement, Aisha, a woman who recently emigrated from Senegal, is hired to care for the daughter of an affluent couple 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 US, 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.”
An official trailer was released last week, giving audiences a chance to see what Jusu has in store for us. Immediately, the family seems normal, maybe a bit too much so. The supernatural and horror elements emerge quickly, and audiences should prepare for a wild ride. Evoking Jordan Peele vibes, it’s no surprise that Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions has already acquired Jusu’s next project after Nanny.
Jusu noted in an interview with IndieWire that she did not want to tell a traditional genre story, saying:
“I wanted to remix this story of a domestic experience with genre. A lot of the films I love do that. I wanted to remix the American immigrant experience with genre. A lot of people have a way into that — whether you were raised by a nanny or your mother was one.”
Given the synopsis and Jusu’s own statements, audiences can anticipate that Nanny will tell an immigrant story through the lens of horror. With immigrants already facing significant struggles, amplifying that with a horror story could create an impactful film that truly resonates with audiences. We will likely need to wait until more information is released to see how this theory holds up.
Nanny: The Cast
Anna Diop of Us plays the lead role of Aisha, the titular nanny and Senegalese immigrant. She works as a nanny to provide for her son, hoping to one day bring him with her from Senegal. Mission: Impossible actor Michelle Monaghan plays Amy, the mother of the child Aisha is hired to babysit. The Gilded Age’s Morgan Spector is her husband, Adam. Amy and Adam seem alright at first, though it quickly becomes clear that something is off.
American Soul star Sinqua Walls plays Malik, the love interest of Aisha. He is easygoing and helps to keep Aisha grounded in the face of all her new struggles. Actor Rose Decker is set for the role of Rose, the daughter of Amy and Adam and the child in Aisha’s care. Iconic actor and singer Leslie Uggams is Kathleen, the grandmother of Malik. She reportedly uses her spiritual connections to help Aisha understand what is happening to her.
Actor Zephani Idoko is in the role of Sallay, and Princess Idenike is Nikki. These are the key players in the film, with many supporting and background roles having been confirmed as well. For details of existing characters, as well as confirmation of additional roles, we will likely need to wait for more information.
Nanny first premiered at Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2022. This marks Jusu’s second film to premiere at the festival, after Suicide by Sunlight in 2019. In March 2022, distribution rights for the film were acquired by Amazon Studios and Blumhouse Productions. The film is also set to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival before receiving its wide release.
Nanny will receive a limited theatrical release on November 23, 2022, just in time for the potentially lucrative Thanksgiving weekend market. Following that limited release, the film will stream on Amazon Prime Video on December 16, 2022.