We had heard that “The Hand That Robs the Cradle” was based on true events, but a little research revealed that it was not the case. The movie was mostly inspired by some cases in the recent past where people have discovered that the ones they believed to be their family were actually their kidnappers. Considering that, we find ourselves thinking that though this movie was a decent watch, what if it had stayed true to the inspiration? Maybe somebody is taking notes, and we will get to witness such a movie or series soon enough. For now, this is what happens in the film.
Delondra Starts Nannying For The Chessmans.
“The Hand That Robs the Cradle” starts with a woman in a park, walking with her baby in a cradle. Her bag is stolen, and taking advantage of her momentary distraction, someone kidnaps her child. Years later, Delondra, who is a medical student working as a nanny, moves into a new house. She is currently caring for a pair of twins, but when their mother gets transferred, she finds herself without a job. However, that problem is solved soon enough when her landlady, Mrs. Tubbs, asks her to take care of a boy named Danny, who is occasionally left in her care by the neighbors.
Danny and Delondra hit it off instantly, and she takes him to the park for a bit. When they are playing, a woman comes there, and she is instantly protective of Danny. But Mrs. Tubbs comes there right away and clears up the misunderstanding. The woman is Melody Chessman, Danny’s mother. When the women are sitting inside the house, Melody and Mrs. Tubbs reveal that Danny was kidnapped seven years ago, and though he was found, they have been wary of it happening again, which is why they haven’t found good help. But Delondra seems to be a good fit due to her training to be a pediatrician and her experience as a nanny, and she is hired immediately. The family is happy with her, and they say that their lives have been improving since they found someone they could trust so implicitly.
Delondra is with Danny in the park when she finds a woman, looking haggard and homeless, playing with Danny on the swing. A scared Delondra tries to take Danny away, but the woman doesn’t let go of him. However, Danny frees himself from her, and the two go back home. But the scare is far from over as the woman breaks into their house. A scared Delondra just about escapes as the Chessmans enter the house. Danny is safe and sound asleep, and his parents call the police. They chalk up the incident to a homeless person trying to find something and assure the nanny and the couple that this incident is not likely to happen again.
But Melody is especially scared as she believes that the woman might be the one who kidnapped Danny seven years ago. She can’t figure out how she could have found them when they are so careful to not leave any traces behind, which is when Delondra tearfully reveals that she posted a picture of herself with Danny, and that could have been the reason for this to happen. Melody is furious and fires Delondra for her negligence. But soon enough, she apologizes to her and hires her again, telling her that the family is going to a cabin in the woods to spend the summer, and she wants Delondra to go with them to take care of Danny. Delondra is more than happy, and she agrees to go with them.
By this time, the audience has started getting the hint that Melody’s paranoia is a little too much. We also start realizing something is wrong because the woman from before breaks into Delondra’s apartment, and though she is caught by the police pretty much immediately, she gets a few words out, which are that she wants to speak with Delondra about the boy. We can tell the woman is not in her right state of mind, and when you connect the dots together, you start understanding that nothing is as it seems.
Right before the family is about to leave for the cabin with Delondra, Officer Leiker meets them and tells them that the woman was Karla Wichael, and she has accused other families in the past of having kidnapped her child. The Chessmans were just her newest victims. Our biggest takeaway from this scene was that things are not as they seem, and that Officer Leiker is suspicious. When the family reaches the cabin, they start settling in, and Delondra runs into Babs and her father, their neighbors, for the summer. Delondra later asks Melody if she can take Danny to their place for lunch the next day to explore and get to know them and the place better, but Melody is adamant about not wanting to socialize. Delondra agrees and steps out to gather some wildflowers, which is when she is introduced to the other side of the story. She is immediately cornered by a guy named Caleb, and he tells her that he is Karla’s brother.
Karla’s son had been kidnapped seven years ago, and she had a nervous breakdown. When she had tried to stalk Delondra and the Chessmans, she had not been on her medication, and she believed that Danny was her long-lost son. Caleb tells Delondra that he had a sketch artist make a picture of what Danny would look like now, and that was eerily similar to Danny. He asks Delondra to just get him some of Danny’s hair so that he could get a DNA test done. Delondra disbelieves in the whole thing, but Caleb tells her that he just wants to know for sure, and if the DNA test is negative, he won’t bother her or the Chessmans again. He believes that the Chessmans are the ones who kidnapped Danny, and all their paranoia is to avoid being caught. Delondra is in a quandary, and before she can say anything to Caleb, Melody comes there. She is unassuming and is just looking for Delondra. Caleb tells her that he is looking to fish and hints to Delondra that he will be there till the night if she changes her mind.
Back in the house, Delondra calls her boyfriend Rob, who is in San Francisco and tells him everything. She asks him to look up the Chessmans and tell her anything she finds on them. Unknown to her, Melody has been keeping an eye on her from the window. Delondra decides to act on her suspicions, and she goes to meet Caleb to give him the hair he had asked for. But she doesn’t know that Caleb has already been killed. While she is there, she gets a call from Rob, and he tells her that they have changed their names three times over the past seven years. They did have a boy named Danny, who died in a household accident seven years ago. They were originally known as George and Carol Probasco and kept changing identity every few years. This is enough proof that Caleb was telling the truth. Delondra decides that she must leave immediately, but she refuses to go without Danny.
‘The Hand That Robs The Cradle’ Ending Explained: Is Delondra Alive? Who Are Melody And Joel Chessman?
Delondra goes back to the cabin, but Joel is waiting for her. He tells her that he knows that Caleb has been talking to her, but Delondra brushes it off and goes to sleep. As soon as she does that, Melody comes out from the shadows, wiping her hands. We understand that she is the one who killed Caleb, and she reassures her husband of that. She also wants to get rid of Delondra, but Joel believes that she might not know anything since she came back. But Melody is not so generous, and she tells him that she will go on a hike the next day with Delondra and kill her there. That night, when all is quiet, Delondra wakes up Danny and tells him to just keep quiet. She takes him to Babs and her father’s cabin and tells them everything that has happened. She believes she can count on them and goes to sleep. However, the next morning, Melody and Joel are there, and they tell her that she is fired and ask her to collect her stuff from the cabin while taking Danny back.
In the cabin, Melody gaslights Delondra by making her question the absurdity of the whole thing. An upset Delondra goes to the laundry room, looking for her phone, and that is when she finds Caleb’s ID and some clothes with blood on them. She is horrified, and when she turns around, Melody is coming at her to hit her on the head. Delondra swerves just in time, but when she is running out, Joel catches her. However, he doesn’t want to harm her, and he doesn’t let Melody do that either. He tells Melody that it is over and that he is exhausted from all the running. Joel says that Danny is growing up, and it won’t be long before he starts asking questions and finding out things for himself. We can already tell that Melody doesn’t care about the practicalities of what she is doing; she just wants to keep Danny with her at all costs. When she notices that Delondra is missing, she tries running after her, but Joel holds her back. Melody hits him on the head, killing him, and then runs after Delondra, who has locked herself in the car with Danny. While operating the car, Delondra accidentally injures Melody. We also find that Danny overheard their conversation, and though he doesn’t know the complete facts, he is aware that his parents have done some bad things.
Delondra drives back to the city, and Danny is reunited with his family. He is confused and still doesn’t know what is going on, but he has to leave with his new parents. Later, Mrs. Tubbs asks Delondra and Rob to spend the night at her place. She is sympathetic and heartbroken at the turn of events, but it is not long before we discover what her true colors are. She drugs Rob with hot cocoa, but Delondra remains conscious because she hasn’t drunk any yet. Mrs. Tubbs reveals that she is Danny’s grandmother and not just some friendly neighbor. Around this time, Melody also enters the house. She has killed Officer Leiker, and she informs Delondra that nobody is coming to save her anymore. It wasn’t Melody who kidnapped Danny, but her mother, Mrs. Tubbs, who needed to find a way to take care of her suicidal daughter after she had lost her own child. They had been careful all these years, but the constant hiding had taken its toll on them, not to mention that Mrs. Tubbs was getting old, and that is why they needed help. But that had turned out to be their biggest mistake, and they wanted to kill Delondra for it. Luckily, Delondra manages to escape by knocking down Melody and locking up Mrs. Tubbs in the basement. Rob also comes to his consciousness, and they are both safe. At the end of “The Hand That Robs the Cradle,” Delondra has come for a birthday party of Danny at the Michaels. They have chosen to continue with Danny’s current name instead of changing it back to Aspen to let him have one constant in his life. It is a happy ending for everyone, with the Wichaels getting their child back and Danny being well-adjusted in the new household.
Though we couldn’t believe that a child as small as Danny would say something like, “you gave me the best gift by reuniting me with my parents,” overall, “The Hand that Robs the Cradle” was a great watch. We are also grateful that the focus of the story remained the careful unfolding of the mystery and that the makers skipped the predictable bloodbath that is usually incorporated in any escape sequence. To balance that compliment on a petty note, we might say that Melody’s curls were a little too stiff, but that is water under the bridge because the movie itself is nice. I would recommend watching it.